Entertainment | The Knowledge Dynasty


Barbershop Books is using barbershops to inspire kids to read

Sometimes a book is just a hobby, a fun way to consume a new story. But sometimes a book is a powerful tool to advance social change.

The National Book Foundation announced the winner of the 2017 Innovations In Reading Prize on Monday. The prize is an annual award that honors individuals and organizations that are using literature to make a social impact on the world and comes with a $10,000 prize. The award was founded in 2009, and since it launched, it has honored a variety of organizations including Next Chapter Book Club and Chicago Books to Women in Prison.

This year, the winner of the Innovations in Reading Prize is Barbershop Books, a community-based literacy program that creates child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops.

The program was founded in 2013 by Alvin Irby, an author and former kindergarten and 1st grade teacher, as a way to help young black boys identify as readers.

“At Barbershop Books, we believe that by pairing books and reading with barbershops, over time an association will be formed in community members and children that when they see a barbershop, it will trigger them to think about books and reading,” Irby explains.

The idea came to Irby when he saw one of his students walk into a barbershop without a book.

“[My student] just sat there with this bored look on his face for 15 or 20 minutes, and the whole time, I kept thinking, He should be practicing his reading right now,'” he said. “So it was literally that perfect storm that brought about the idea: me being a teacher, me seeing my student, and me spending a lifetime going to the barbershop and understanding how important it is for the young boys who go there.”

Since its launch, Barbershop Books has partnered with more than 50 barbershops across 20 cities in 12 different states to provide books for young black boys, a community that Irby explains is often underserved in school.

“Many young black boys may literally never see a black man reading in school during the years when theyre learning to read because there are so few black male elementary school teachers,” Irby says.

Because of this, Irby says, many young black boys never have people who look like them encouraging them to read.

But that’s where barbershops come in.

“For many of those same young black boys, if they go to a barbershop, they actually see their barber at least once or twice a month,” he said. “Those frequent trips to the barbershop creates this opportunity to help boys identify as readers.”

Image: Barbershop Books

But Barbershop Books is about more than just giving kids access to books it’s about giving kids access to books they want to read.

“This is really what Barbershop books is about, getting young black boys to say three words: Im a reader.”

“One of the things youll notice as I talk about Barbershop Books is that you wont hear me talking about reading skills or vocabulary,” Irby said. “Thats not a coincidence. I think there are far too many young black boys whose first and early reading experience are almost all skills-based. And there are fewer and fewer opportunities for children just to have fun, low-stress interactions with books and reading. And thats what Barbershop Books is trying to do. Our belief is that if we can create positive reading experiences early and often for young black boys, then they will choose to read for fun because they will identify as a reader.”

And that is the very core of Barbershop Book’s mission not just getting students to pick up a book, but rather to self-identify as a reader.

“This is really what Barbershop books is about, getting young black boys to say three words: Im a reader,” he said. “If we can get young black boys to say those three words, we believe they will read for fun, and if they read for fun, we believe they will reach higher levels of reading proficiency.”

It’s a mission that Irby hopes to spread to more and more places. With the $10,000 prize money, Irby plans to expand Barbershop Books to expand to Little Rock, Arkansas (Irbys hometown), partnering with 10 new barbershops and conducting trainings for barbers to learn how to establish reading community spaces.

Barbershop Books wasn’t the only organization spotlighted by the National Book Foundation with the innovations in reading prize. The organization also announced several honorable mentions including: Books@Work, Great Reading Games, Poetry in Motion, Reach Out and Read.

You can learn more about each organization below.

Honorable Mentions:


Image: Books@Work

Books@Work brings professor-led literature seminars to workplaces and community settings to build confidence, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. Through shared narratives, Books@Work builds human capacity to imagine, innovate, and connect, strengthening cultures of trust, respect, and inclusion.

Great Reading Games

Image: Great Reading Games

Great Reading Games is a national audiobook reading competition from Learning Ally, a non-profit that helps students with print-disabilities. The contest is designed to motivate students to increase the frequency and duration with which they read.

Poetry in Motion

Image: Poetry In Motion

Poetry in Motion is a project by the Poetry Society of America that places poetry and accompanying art in subway cars throughout New York City. Since it was a founded in 1992 (with a brief hiatus between 2008 – 2011), Poetry In Motion has brought more than 200 poems and excerpts to millions of subway riders.

Reach Out and Read

Image: Reach Out and Read

Reach Out and Read is a nonprofit organization that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/01/innovations-in-reading-prize-barbershop-books/

Rockstar is not happy about driverless cars learning from ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ without permission

Driverless cars that work are cool, but using another company’s work without their permission maybe isn’t.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that manufacturers of driverless cars were using video game environments as a testing ground to help teach their cars how to drive themselves. One video game in particular became the go-to for the impressive work that went into its streets: Grand Theft Auto V.

Researchers connected to Intel Labs figured out a way to modify GTAV‘s engine and algorithms to set up a simulation that would allow companies to track car data on the streets of Los Santos.

The resources needed to test AI on self-driving cars in the real-world are extensive, but a video game environment allows for much easier use. It’s not perfect because, as accurate as the physics in a game can be, it’s still not the real world but it certainly helps move the process along at a faster rate. Researchers can study a car’s response to obstacles and various scenarios incrementally, and make changes on the fly as needed. Rinse and repeat. You can’t really do that in the real without without spending tons of hours on it.

As Bloomberg reported:

Just relying on data from the roads is not practical, said Davide Bacchet, who leads the simulation effort in San Jose, California, for Nio, a startup aiming to introduce an autonomous electric car in the U.S. in 2020. With simulation, you can run the same scenario over and over again for infinite times, then test it again.

A fascinating use of technology, to be sure. But Rockstar sent us a statement today highlighting the other side to this. We welcome discussions about the use of our technology to help further academic research, but its obviously not appropriate for corporations to take our work and use it for their own financial interests or for researchers to distribute unlicensed copies of our code as part of their work without first seeking our permission, the company said.

Technically, no one seems to be directly profiting off of using the GTAV engine just yet. But it certainly paves the way for that to happen. Like, for instance, if companies like Google grab this data to get a leg up on, say, Tesla, who have bragged about the number of hours they’ve logged testing their driverless cars. Video game modifications have always been a little tricky, legally-speaking, but particularly once money comes into the equation.

WATCH: A driverless shuttle called Harry is coming to London and it’s low-key exciting

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/04/21/rocktar-gta-driverless-cars/

Bob Dylan receives Nobel Prize in literature in Sweden

(CNN)Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan finally received his Nobel Prize in literature Saturday at a private ceremony in Stockholm, according to a statement posted online by the head of the Swedish Academy.

The presentation came five months after the academy announced Dylan was the winner and more than three months after the formal award ceremony, which Dylan didn’t attend because of “pre-existing commitments.” Singer Patti Smith stood in for him.
But Dylan was in Stockholm this weekend to perform concerts and the private ceremony was arranged.
It’s not known what Dylan had to say about the award. Swedish media reported no cameras were present at the ceremony. There were no comments made to media by Dylan,or any member of the academy, either before or after the event.
Upon the announcement of Dylan’s award in October, the academy’s permanent secretary, Sara Danius, said Dylan “is a great poet in the English-speaking tradition,” drawing parallels between his work and that of ancient Greek poets.
Saturday, she issued the following statement on Dylan’s receipt of the award:
“Earlier today the Swedish Academy met with Bob Dylan for a private ceremony in Stockholm, during which Dylan received his gold medal and diploma. Twelve members of the Academy were present. Spirits were high. Champagne was had.

The debate over Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize for literature


“Quite a bit of time was spent looking closely at the gold medal, in particular the beautifully crafted back, an image of a young man sitting under a laurel tree who listens to the Muse. Taken from Virgil’s Aeneid, the inscription reads: Inventas vitam iuvat excoluisse per artes, loosely translated as, ‘And they who bettered life on earth by their newly found mastery.’ The day came to an end with Dylan’s extraordinary performance at the Waterfront concert house.”
Dylan — the first songwriter to win a Nobel Prize — was acknowledged by the Swedish Academy “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/01/entertainment/bob-dylan-nobel-prize/index.html

MashReads Podcast: If you read one book this year, it should be ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ by George Saunders

Image: MJ Franklin/ Mashable

George Saunders has a rule for art: “If you do it right, it’s almost like this beautiful prism, and no matter what the time is, you can shine a light through it and it will make some sense.”

It’s an apt description and an excellent way to describe Saunders’ newest book Lincoln in the Bardo, a postmodern novel that’s both incredibly timely and quintessentially timeless.

Lincoln In The Bardo tells the story of one fateful night in a Georgetown graveyard in 1862. When his son Willie dies, a grief-stricken Abraham Lincoln goes to visit his body three times throughout the course of a night. But unbeknownst to him, he’s not the only inhabitant in the graveyard.

The cemetery is also full of ghosts stuck in bardo, the period between death and whatever comes next in the afterlife. Drawn to his father’s presence, Willie Lincoln decides to stay in the bardo, starting a fateful battle for the boy’s soul.

Told through a chorus of 166 different voices, Lincoln In The Bardo is a perfectly crafted novel about the universal themes of grief, empathy, family and the existential angst of moving on. Do yourself a favor and go read this book ASAP.

This week on the MashReads Podcast, we read and discuss Lincoln in the Bardo with George Saunders himself! Join us as we talk about history, postmodern novels and the power of empathy in literature.

And as always, we close the show with recommendations:

  • George has a host of book recommendations including: Moonglow by Michael Chebon, Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, Swingtime by Zadie Smith and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead and I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years, 1933-1941 by Victor Klemperer.
  • Aliza recommends the audiobook version of Lincoln In The Bardo. “The audiobook for this book, Lincoln In The Bardo, is amazing. All of the 166 different perspectives have a different voice actor; they’re all well known celebrities/ big name actors, and they all apparently knocked it out of the park.”
  • Peter recommends rewatching the first John Wick movie (before seeing John Wick: Chapter 2). “What I love so much about that movie is that it all takes place in its own kind of silly world, but it knows it’s silly and it’s fine being silly.”
  • MJ recommends Kathryn Schulz’s ‘When Things Go Missing,’ a new essay in the New Yorker about grief and the phenomenon of losing things. “It’s both a really heartbreaking and emotional essay, but also a masterful one. [Kathryn Schulz] is such a phenomenal writer. I highly recommend you go read this.”

We hope you’ll join us next week on the podcast as we read and discuss History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera with Silvera himself.

And if you’re looking for even more book news, don’t forget to follow MashReads on Facebook and Twitter.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/02/26/mashreads-podcast-lincoln-in-the-bardo-george-saunders/

MashRead Podcast: ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ is the classic novel that should be on every reading list

Image: Mashable Composite, HarperCollins

Sometimes the best way to understand the present is to look at the past.

Or at least that’s true with Zora Neale Hurston’s classic novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. The book was written 80 years ago, but the commentary it makes on race and feminism feels as fresh and contemporary as anything published today.

Their Eyes Were Watching God tells the story of Janie Crawford, a southern woman living in Florida in the early 1900s. When Janie returns to home from an extended time away, she is followed by a wave of gossip about her past. Determined to set the record straight, she tells her life story to her friend Pheoby, recounting her adventures as they relate to her three marriages and how each marriage shaped her into a sharp and fiercely independent woman who must navigate the pressures placed on her as a black woman in the south.

This week on the MashReads Podcast, we read and discuss Zora Neal Hurston’s timeless novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. Join us as we talk about the book’s portrait of the south, how the book is like The Odyssey by Homer and how Hurston wrote the feminist boss queen we all need right now.

Then, inspired by Their Eyes Were Watching God and Black History Month, we discuss our favorite books by black authors including Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, How To Be Black by Baratunde Thurston and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi.

And as always we close the show with recommendations:

  • Aliza recommends the Everything, Everything trailer. She also recommends a list of geeky feminist projects after attending the Strand’s Galentine’s Day event this week including Geek Girl Brunch, an international meetup group that hosts activities for geeky women and Geek Girl Strong, a program and community that combines geekdom with fitness.
  • Peter recommends The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. “It’s really, really, really great. Especially in terms of fantasy… It’s a rainbow of people and characters in a way that I have personally have found sendom in a fantasy genre. And it’s wonderful and refreshing.”
  • MJ recommends Dear White People, the 2014 movie that inspired the upcoming Netflix series of the same name. “What I loved about this movie is that it felt like a dialogue…Whether you agree with the politics of the characters or not, [the movie] felt like a smart, rich dialogue that we should be having right now.”

And if you’re looking for a book to sink your teeth into, we recommend History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera, which is this month’s official MashReads book club book.

If you’re looking for even more book news, don’t forget to follow MashReads on Facebook and Twitter.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/02/18/mashreads-podcast-their-eyes-were-watching-god-zora-neale-hurston/

‘Jason Bourne’ reunites original band to play the fast-paced hits

(CNN)Much like its title character, “Jason Bourne” is an efficient automaton of a movie, stripping away any pesky qualifiers — “Identity,” “Supremacy,” “Ultimatum” — and getting down to what the whole exercise is about in the bare-bones title.

Nine years after their last outing (and ignoring a misguided spinoff attempt), star/producer Matt Damon and director/co-writer Paul Greengrass have reunited, offering the same visceral, kinetic thrills. The result is a movie that provides the requisite pacing and action, as long as one doesn’t spend too much time fretting about the plot or logistics.
Much will likely be made of the timely central conceit, which involves the government using technology for mass-surveillance purposes. Moreover, if Jason Bourne is a modern-day answer to James Bond, it’s worth noting the only nefarious group here is the CIA, without requiring made-up acronyms like SPECTRE, as the preoccupation with Bourne stretches all the way to the agency’s director (a perfectly cast Tommy Lee Jones).
    Whatever the foundation in Robert Ludlum’s novels, the politics now are merely an excuse to launch the taciturn hero into action, with Damon’s purposeful walk, set to that pulsating music, representing its own kind of special effect.
    Suffice it to say that the one-time killing machine has been living off the grid, before being drawn back by an old ally (Julia Stiles). She’s armed with hacked, top-secret documents related to the shadowy forces that molded him, which, the agency frets, “could be worse than Snowden.”
    That again puts the CIA on Bourne’s tail, with the director dispatching an “asset” (Vincent Cassel) every bit as talented as Bourne in the art of mayhem to neutralize the threat, auguring an inevitable showdown.
    Beyond Jones, the supporting cast includes Alicia Vikander (coming off her Oscar win for “The Danish Girl”) as an ambitious CIA analyst leading the operation; and Riz Ahmed (currently featured to better effect in HBO’s “The Night Of”) as a tech billionaire, whose privacy-invading app is enlisted to do the government’s bidding.
    The action is characteristically stylish and breathtakingly fast. Those sequences only hit a serious skid during a climactic car chase along the Las Vegas Strip, which seems to have parachuted in from the “Fast & Furious” movies and pays even less attention to the laws of physics than it does local traffic ordinances.
    In interviews promoting the movie, Greengrass has been fairly open about his reticence in returning to these films, and his irritation over “The Bourne Legacy,” which Universal produced without him. Damon was equally candid about helping coax Greengrass back by arguing that it would be foolish to walk away from a franchise with such a built-in fan base.
    From that perspective, there’s nothing complicated about why Jason Bourne wasn’t left out in the cold.
    Universal tried the equivalent of a “Bourne” cover band. Now they’ve brought back the original group to play the hits. And kicks. And explosions.
    “Jason Bourne” opens July 29 in the U.S.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/27/entertainment/jason-bourne-review/index.html

    Experiential Event Entertainment Company Launches iCamSurf – Interactive Fun for Corporate Promotions

    Honolulu, Hawaii (PRWEB) January 14, 2015


    Surf Simulator Events introduces a new computerized system that allows anyone to surf on a full sized Virtual

    Surfboard on dryland… or use a Magic Carpet to simulate surfing a continuous 30 foot wave anywhere and anyplace in the world for a trade show, corporate event or promotion – indoors or outdoors without getting wet.

    iCamSurfing is the new interactive dryland surf experience that requires fun, physical participation using standard webcams. A PC webcam running windows 7 / 8 can now read complex body movements for playing a variety of interactive games.

    A revolution to the interactive game market is being introduced by Experiential Event Entertainment called iCAMSURF – THE PORTABLE SURF PARTY – which simplifies the deployment of entertainment events worldwide. More than 15 years ago, the company introduced the world’s first electronic, waterless, surfboard simulator system for dry land. The launch of their new iCAMSURF software series combines the power of successful 3D gaming along with Extreme Reality’s webcam Sensing engine. The webcam software engine maximizes the interactive on screen gameplay while providing the choice of using a real surfboard or simple surfboard shaped rug. It is like standing in front of a security camera – any move you make is sensed and interpreted into riding a huge Hawaiian Waimea Wave on any video screen or controlling a soccer ball or car race with simple body movements.

    In addition, the proprietary software can be quickly customized. For example, project a continuous, gigantic 30 foot virtual tube wave decorated with corporate logos, banners and branded coins. The “surfer wannabe” stands in front of the webcam and large monitor and strikes surfer-like poses and movements on dry land to control all the surfing action in the virtual wave tube. The portable and quick deployment iCAMSURF technology offers a broader, new and exciting entertainment event for any aged guests at retail operations, trade shows, marketing / promotion, restaurants, hotels or parties all within a smaller footprint.

    iCAMSURF technology will be used for corporate events, trade shows, fund raisers interactive museum exhibits, hotels and retailers that demand standalone interactive displays where manpower is a costly resource.

    The iCAMSURF motion control recognition system is powered by well-known software company Extreme Reality, the only company to provide full-body, software-based, 3D motion analysis and control to any computing device via a standard web camera. As a valued partner, Extreme Reality was integral to development of the unique surfing game as it provided the robust engine that harnessed the power of the existing onboard web cam of any laptop or external web cam turning it into virtual, hands-free controller for PC games.

    Surf Simulator Entertainment Events plans to offer the surfing system as a licensed software for entertainment events to engage guests at corporate events, trade shows and other promotional activities. Business operators, restaurants, bars and events as well as business owners can utilize the system as an addition to their present promotional tools.

    About Extreme Reality

    Extreme Reality software enables a future where people interact with computing devices through the motion of their body. Providing full-body, software-based, motion analysis and control to any computing device or operating system via a standard camera. Offered as a software development kit (SDK) (Available online: http://www.xtr3d.com/developers) motion control is available to any developer on any operating system, Windows, iOS and Android. Extreme Reality was founded in 2005 and is based in Herzelia, Israel.

    About iCAMsurf

    Surfsimulator Events / iCAMsurf Virtual Surfing has been in the marketing/advertising and promotions business for over 20 years across the globe from Dubai, Japan as far as South Africa delivering “experiential” events to promote brands and entertain. With team backgrounds coming from Atari, Nintendo, Sega and Nordic track, the group has developed successful, interactive software focused on engaging any age and culture. Their worldwide reputation is based upon their patented “Virtual Surf Simulator Systems” which use a real electronic surfboard to teach people how to surf and sharpen their balance skills on dryland. The iCAMsurf system is a completely new alternative requested by many clients who are subjected to limited space, manpower and need quick deployment time . Sans electronic surfboard, the new guest experience is simplified – a standard webcam reads the movements of the guests (standing directly in front of the video screen) to control the exciting surf action while the spectators are exposed to the brand and product images. http://www.surfsimulatorevents.com

    Related Physics Press Releases

    18th Annual PRISM Awards Honoring Authenticity in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Recovery in Entertainment Now Available on EICnetwork.tv

    Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) October 07, 2014

    Entertainment Industries Council, Inc. (EIC) announces expanded availability for viewing the 18th Annual PRISM Showcase with host Dr. Drew Pinsky (Dr. Drew On Call) and guest co-hosts Candace Cameron Bure (Full House), and Tim Kang (The Mentalist). To see this year’s honorees in television shows and movies that accurately depict mental health and substance use prevention, treatment and recovery visit EICnetwork.tv.

    The 18th Annual PRISM Showcase also features many celebrity guests prominently wearing the lime green ribbon, representing Each Mind Matters, California’s mental health movement. The lime green ribbon is a symbol of this movement to decrease stigma and discrimination towards those with mental health challenges.

    The PRISM Awards and the Each Mind Matters campaign encourage the treatment of the health of the mind as synonymous to our treatment of the physical health of the body. The movement seeks to reduce stigma and barriers to support help-seeking behavior.

    “The movement to get more accurate character depictions and more informed news reporting about mental health is most important and PRISM puts influential, recognizable faces to the progress being made,” said News Director, Northwest Cable News, Wayne Lynch.

    “This year, the heightened national conversation surrounding mental health is unprecedented. The 400 plus submissions reviewed and nominees scored by the PRISM Nomination Review Committee represent the foundation of this movement’s commitment to authenticity in entertainment media. These productions and our airing partners shine a spotlight on life saving issues and better enable family and community conversations about mental health, substance use, and hopefully encourage individuals to seek the help they need,” said Brian Dyak, President and CEO of EIC.

    Dr. Drew, along with co-hosts Candace Cameron Bure and Tim Kang, will be joined on the show by Allison Janney (Mom), Chandra Wilson (Grey’s Anatomy), Octavia Spencer (Red Band Society), Alison Haislip (The Morning After), Anthony Anderson (Black-ish), Justin Chambers (Grey’s Anatomy), Academy Award winner Meryl Streep, Will Estes (Blue Bloods), Max Burkholder (Parenthood), Troian Bellisario (Pretty Little Liars), Tim Matheson (Hart of Dixie), Sharon Lawrence (The After), Lea Thompson (Call Me Crazy), Ernie Hudson (Call Me Crazy), Jason Ritter (Parenthood), Benjamin Stockham (About a Boy), Greer Grammer (Awkward), Laura Bell Bundy (Anger Management), Dee Wallace (Grimm), Grant Bowler (Defiance), Nikki DeLoach (Awkward), Windell Middlebrooks (Body of Proof), Michael Lomenda (Jersey Boys), Phillip P. Keene (Major Crimes), Agnes Bruckner (Anna Nicole), Carly Steel (OMG! Insider), Jaclyn Betham (The Haves and Have Nots), Kate Linder (The Young and the Restless), Katie Cassidy (Arrow), and Mackenzie Phillips. They will honor films and TV shows including August: Osage County, The Spectacular Now, Home, Nurse Jackie, Mom, Parenthood, Scandal, Greys Anatomy, Blue Bloods, Elementary, and Call Me Crazy: A Five Film.

    To watch the 18th Annual PRISM Showcase check your local cable listings or log on to EICnetwork.tv

    About Entertainment Industries Council

    EIC is a non-profit organization founded in 1983 by leaders within the entertainment industry to bring the power and influence of the industry to communicate about health and social issues. The organization is considered to be the chief pioneer of entertainment and journalism outreach and a premiere success story in the field of entertainment education. This mission relies on providing resource information to the creative community and culminates in recognition of the industry through the national television special PRISM Showcase, which addresses accurate portrayals of substance use issues and mental health concerns. The organization also produces the SET Awards, honoring positive and non-stereotypical portrayals of science, engineering, and technology. For a complete list of health and social issues addressed by EIC and local projects, please visit First Draft and EIC’s website. EIC’s website is http://www.eiconline.org. The PRISM Awards website is http://www.prismawards.com.



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