Jerry Seinfeld Returns to the Comedy Club That Launched His Career in His First Netflix Stand-Up Special


Jerry Seinfeld is one of the comedy greats, a sitcom legend and one of the most successful stand-up comedians of all time. But once upon a time, he was a struggling nobody hitting the open mic nights just like everybody else.

And he’s about to give all of his fans a look at that young, green comic he once was in his new stand-up special, the first of two he agreed to film for Netflix as a part of the major deal he signed with streaming giant earlier this year, appropriately entitled Jerry Before Seinfeld.

“I only had one joke that worked, which I’m going to do for you right now,” he tells the audience at The Comic Strip, the club that helped launch his career, setting the stage for an intimate set that streaming services assures will be full of the jokes that helped put him on the map.

The hour-long special will see Seinfeld’s set interspersed with never-before-seen footage of the comedian’s early years, including the library of legal pads he’s kept with every single joke he’s written since 1975, childhood videos and photos, and more. “Would I have been funnier if I grew up in Peoria in a whorehouse raised by prostitutes? Absolutely,” he jokes, standing in front of what must be his childhood home out on Long Island. “But this is what I had to work with.”

Of course, the special will also be rife with the observational humor that has become Seinfeld’s trademark. “Cookie Crisp. It’s not like cookies. It is cookies,” he jokes. “I was either eating 100 percent sugar or Airborne.”

Jerry Before Seinfeld is the first of two stand-up specials the comedian will film for Netflix. Additionally, his Emmy-nominated interview comedy show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee will make the jump to the streaming service from its former home, Crackle, for 24 new episodes, set to debut, in part, later this year. Additionally, all 59 of the previously produced episodes will move exclusively to Netflix. As if that wasn’t enough, Seinfeld will also help develop scripted and unscripted programming for the streamer as part of his deal.

Jerry Before Seinfeld premieres Tuesday, Sept. 19 on Netflix.


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IBM has launched a study on the human microbiome and its role in disease


How the bugs in our gut and elsewhere on our body affect our overall health still remains largely a mystery. But IBM is hoping to shed some light on the human microbiome and its role in autoimmune diseases using crowdsourced supercomputers through its World Community Grid.

IBM has partnered up with the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital, University of California San Diego, and the Simons Foundation’s Flatiron Institute for the study, which aims to map three million bacterial genes found in human guts.

The hope is this research will help scientists better understand how these bacteria contribute to diseases like Type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

IBM isn’t the only one looking at our gut health, though. In fact, it seems to be en vogue for tech companies. In April, Alphabet’s life sciences arm Verily launched a project to glean information on the microbiome through the gut and DNA samples of 10,000 participants. Tech billionaire Naveen Jain began his own exploration of the subject with the creation of Viome in 2016 and there have been several startups gobbling up VC dollars to study the subject in the past couple of years.

IBM’s study will use the scientists from the aforementioned universities as well as the harness the mass computing power from volunteers around the world to crunch the data. It will then analyze findings and make them publicly available.


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Chinese ‘cyber-court’ launched for online cases


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The digital court has heard its first case – online

China has launched a digital “cyber-court” to help deal with a rise in the number of internet-related claims, according to state media.

The Hangzhou Internet Court opened on Friday and heard its first case – a copyright infringement dispute between an online writer and a web company.

Legal agents in Hangzhou and Beijing accessed the court via their computers and the trial lasted 20 minutes.

The court’s focus will be civil cases, including online shopping disputes.

Judges were sworn in and the first case was presented on a large screen in the courtroom.

‘Saves time’

Defendants and plaintiffs appear before the judge not in person, but via video-chat.

“The internet court breaks geographic boundaries and greatly saves time in traditional hearings,” said Wang Jiangqiao, the court’s vice-president, via state media.

In 2016, China began streaming some trials in more traditional courtrooms online in an apparent effort to boost the transparency of the legal system.

Some questioned the move, however.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to broadcast trials online because many people involved in these cases probably don’t want the public to share their personal information,” human rights lawyer Liang Xiaojun told the BBC at the time.

In some other countries, online portals to allow people to resolve legal disputes in cyber-space already exist.

Canada’s Civil Resolution Tribunal starting accepting claims for $5,000 (£3,000) or less in British Columbia in June.


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Carmel Concours: Here’s how Car Week in Monterey gets launched



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That whole Pebble thing can be a little overwhelming, but at its heart, it’s all about our mutual and universal love of cool cars. Why do we love cool cars? Well, everyone has a story…

“I’m standing there in eighth grade in the high school seniors’ parking lot — where I don’t belong — and there’s a gorgeous R-Code four-speed Galaxie convertible parked there, dark blue with a light blue interior, and out come Janet Walford and Sandy Farrell.” This was Concours founder Doug Freedman, explaining why, after all these years, he still loves R-Code Galaxies — and maybe why you still love whatever car it is you long for, and whomever your own personal Janet Walford and Sandy Farrell are. “They get in and I am smitten, blown away, bamboozled. These were girls who, if you saw them coming down the hallway at school, you would press yourself against the wall to get out of the way because you’re not worthy, and they’re getting into a car that was simply overpowering.”

Porsche at Carmel Concours

Porsches were popular at Carmel Concours Photo by Ed Justice Jr.

He still can’t get over it all. Which explains, perhaps, why there was a triple-black R-Code four-speed Galaxie convertible at the Concours on the Avenue this year. And why there were 190 other cars, all equally cool in their own ways to their owners, at least, and maybe to others, too, strewn all over the normally bucolic streets of the fairy tale town of Carmel. Perhaps nowhere on the Monterey Peninsula is that unvarnished, easy autolove better represented than on Carmel’s Ocean Avenue, the town’s main drag, which, along with almost every side street for a block or two around, is closed off and crammed with cars.

This year, the cars were categorized into three groups of 13 classes each: Porsches from 1948 to 1989, Ferraris from 1947 (in case anyone ever shows up with a 125 S) to 1989, and the catchall “Multi Marques” from 1940 to 1973. The show takes up 18 blocks total, counting all the side streets that are also closed down, all filled up with curated cars. Curated, because this is not a Show N’ Shine, where just anyone shows up and parks his or her hooptie. You have to apply, and Doug and a squadron of dedicated volunteers choose what’s cool enough to cruise in. But nonetheless, the field was diverse, with cars everyone lusted after, as well as cars only a mother, or a kooky owner, could love.

“It’s the greatest Cars n’ Coffee in the world,” said Keith Martin, publisher of Sports Car Market (now in its 30th year!). “It’s a very high-level place where people can just come and kick tires. This (the whole Pebble Beach phenomenon) is a week for high stakes and big egos and lots of pretension, in some cases, and you don’t find that at Concours on the Avenue. It’s a buffet of interesting cars.”

Indeed, Martin himself brought a Bradley, a kit car made of fiberglass built on a Volkswagen chassis.

“It’s a profoundly bad car,” he said.

The Bradley

But the rest of the show, while there was a class of Cyclops, had some lovely vehicles.

”They had a class of Carrera RS,” said Martin in amazement. “Those are $500,000 to $700,000, and they were stacked up like cordwood. It seemed like most of those cars were driven there.”

“It shows that the enthusiasm for collector cars is not somehow limited to the exclusive lawns of Pebble Beach and the Quail Lodge,” said collector car broker Andrew Reilly, who has lent his expertise to positions at the Mullin Automotive Museum as well as Gooding & Co., and Bonhams. “It’s unpretentious, free, well-attended and offers a broad variety of people — the people who are showing their cars are all in attendance and very approachable.”

“There were some really interesting cars,” said classic car expert Donald Osborne, whom you may recognize as the host of the “Assess and Caress” segment of “Jay Leno’s Garage.” They had a really terrific Citroen class, two absolutely fascinating classes for vintage racing karts and quarter midgets and a VW class. The number of long-term owners, people who have owned their cars for 30 or 40 years, was absolutely sensational. The fellow who won the Citroen class had owned his 1964 DS21 Chapron-bodied convertible for 12 or 15 years. It was just absolutely sensational.”

The enthusiasm was universal.

“It was a fantastic show,” said first-timer Gian Moriconi, whose 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T was one of the American muscle cars and who was like a kid in a carlike candy store. “The Porsche presence was amazing, the 1970s Carrera RSes were amazing to see, as well as the Speedsters. Also, the 502 Motorworks Spyder the Bentley B Special No. 1 was amazing! And the Silver Ferrari that GTO Engineering brought, along with the 1960 Ferrari 250 SWB was incredible.”

And it was big. A fairly good estimate by Freedman pegged attendance this year at 28,000.

“It was the largest crowd they’ve ever had,” said co-emcee Ed Justice Jr. “From opening to finish, it was full all day long. I really like this show because of all the variety in the cars that show up here. This is more about the car culture than some of the events in Monterey this week.”

So when you’re planning for next year’s Week, justify getting here a little early for Carmel. You won’t be disappointed. And if anyone sees either Janet Walford or Sandy Farrell, tell them Doug says hi.


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Federal civil rights probe launched into fatal Charlottesville crash


The federal government has opened a civil rights investigation into the vehicular rampage that killed one woman and injured 19 other people during Saturday’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a statement Saturday night to announce the probe.

“The Richmond FBI Field Office, the Civil Rights Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia have opened a civil rights investigation into the circumstances of the deadly vehicular incident that occurred earlier Saturday morning,” Sessions said in the statement. “The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and as this is an ongoing investigation we are not able to comment further at this time.”

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James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio, has been arrested in connection with the fatal crash, authorities said. The rally was organized by right-wing blogger Jason Kessler, who wanted to protest Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park. The event quickly turned chaotic, as white nationalists clashed with counter-protesters and police.

Sessions condemned the violence.

“When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated,” the attorney general said.

“I have talked with FBI Director Chris Wray, FBI agents on the scene, and law enforcement officials for the state of Virginia. The FBI has been supporting state and local authorities throughout the day,” Sessions said. “U.S. Attorney Rick Mountcastle has commenced a federal investigation and will have the full support of the Department of Justice. Justice will prevail.”

Earlier Saturday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, had called upon the Justice Department to launch a probe.

“Having watched the horrifying video of the car deliberately crashing into a crowd of protesters, I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute this grotesque act of domestic terrorism,” Cruz said in a statement.

According to Virginia State Police, three other people were arrested in connection with the rally. They were identified as Troy Dunigan, 21, of Chattanooga, Tenn., charged with disorderly conduct; Jacob L. Smith, 21, of Louisa, Va., charged with assault and battery; and James M. O’Brien, 44, of Gainesville, Fla., charged with carrying a concealed handgun.

Sessions’ statement drew mixed reactions on social media. Some praised the decision to make the case a civil rights investigation, while others saw the case as terrorism and murder, with race a nonfactor.

Meanwhile, the nation’s leading civil rights organizations issued a number of statements in reaction to Saturday’s events.

The NAACP called for President Trump to fire his adviser Steve Bannon, describing Bannon as a “well-known white supremacist leader.”

The National Urban League added: “We call on everyone with a voice on our national stage to condemn these demonstrations & racist sentiments in the strongest possible terms.”

The National Action Network said it “calls on President Trump to address the causes of these events, denounce the white supremacists at the very heart of this conflict, and start working towards peace.”

Protesters took to the streets of California cities such as Los Angeles and Oakland on Saturday night to decry what transpired in Charlottesville earlier in the day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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500 Startups’ Australia accelerator program is axed by its partner before it even launched


500 Startups continues to feel the impact of a sexual harassment scandal involving its co-founder and former managing partner Dave McClure. Two weeks after the closure of its Canada-based fund, its maiden venture in Australia is getting the chop before it even began.

The U.S. firm doesn’t have a dedicated fund in Australia, but it did announce an accelerator program — 500 Melbourne — in May in partnership with LaunchVic, a $60 million entrepreneurship scheme backed by the government of Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state. Now, however, LaunchVic has terminated its partnership with the VC firm.

The relationship had certainly gotten tense over the past month, since McClure resigned from 500 Startups in early July after a number of women came forward with sexual harassment allegations against him. LaunchVic put the firm “on notice” last month after it was kept in the dark over the claims against McClure, who had traveled to Australia to front the launch of 500 Melbourne despite the fact that he had taken a back seat at the firm following an internal investigation into the claims.

LaunchVic said it wanted to see a “change in culture” at the firm if the project was to go ahead, but the final straw seems to have been the resignation of 500 Melbourne head Rachael Neumann. Neumann quit the firm because she believes that “this is simply not the right time for 500 to launch in Australia.”

She explained on Twitter that she had traveled to the U.S. to meet with 500 Startups’ leadership over its Australia plan, but following discussions made a decision to leave.

“While I am deeply disappointed at how this has ended, I feel confident in LaunchVic’s strong course of action over the past month to give 500 Startups an opportunity to show leadership to improve culture in the startup sector and fix the issues at hand,” LaunchVic CEO Dr Kate Cornick said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, as we’ve expressed to 500 Startups, that without Rachael Neumann at the
helm we don’t believe it will work,” Dr Cornick added.

“500 strongly believes in the future of the Australian tech sector, but now is not the right time to move forward with this new partnership. We look forward to future opportunities down the road,” a spokesperson for 500 Startups said via email.

The dissolving of the partnership won’t impact LaunchVic’s overall budget. A representative of the organization clarified to TechCrunch that the grant of over $2 million that it originally pledged to 500 Melbourne will not be allocated to the project or 500 Startups itself.

LaunchVic will instead use the grant to develop a different accelerator project that maintains links to the global and local startup community.


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Astro Digital launched its first imaging satellites


The global imaging and analysis company, Astro Digital, has sent its first imaging satellites into space early this morning as part of larger payload launched by the Russian company Glavkosmos.

The two satellites from Astro Digital join 70 other satellites transported on a Soyuz rocket launched from a site in Kazakhstan by the subsidiary of Russia’s state space agency Roscosmos.

With the launch, Astro Digital will begin to demonstrate the full system it had hoped to build since it was founded three years ago, according to a blog post from co-founder and head of product Bronwyn Agrios.

it’s a shot across the bow of the roughly 15 competing satellite imaging companies vying for a piece of the global imaging market.

While Astro Digital is starting small, the satellite imaging business has massive implications for any number of industries. The business relates to mapping, autonomous driving and so many other services that rely on location, both for consumers and businesses and for governments as well.

There is a race on to be able to create and update imaging of this kind, and while some larger groups are hoping to hold the keys, the fact that there are still also a sizable number of startups trying, points to how competitive the field.

And satellites are a tricky business. Alphabet basically ceded its position in the market when it sold Terra Bella to Planet earlier this year. Coupled with the disintegration of the proposed merger of OneWeb and Intelsat, there’s mounting evidence that crossing the finish line with a viable business in the space race isn’t easy.

Astro Digital can now provide imaging, downlink, processing, analysis and distribution in a unified system, with each image covering roughly 30,000 square kilometers, or an area half the size of Austria.

In a few months, Agrios said, the satellites will be able to cover areas of the U.S., Canada, and Russia.

The goal for the company is to get to global, daily imaging by the first quarter of 2018.

Since it raised $16 million in funding earlier this year from investors including Vast Ventures, undisclosed family offices and angel investors, Astro Digital has been hard at work getting the different pieces of its imaging and analysis platform for monitoring the earth up and running.

In February, the company announced on its Medium page that it had put up the datasets it had generated from information collected from NASA’s MODIS satellite onto Amazon Web Services. The data repository was a signpost of the types of analytical work that Astro Digital’s software can do (the company’s satellites already can be used to collect data used by forestry services to provide early information on potential forest fires).

Then, in June, the company sent employees off to the Arctic to commission its ground station antenna and simulate the conditions under which the ground station would receive data from its first two Landmapper satellites.

Photo courtesy Astro Digital.

As Astro Digital enters the crowded market for satellite imaging, the company is touting its system which it says is “specifically designed for large scale change monitoring”.

Everything from the size of the company’s satellite, its optics system, power sources, and orbit, to its downlink technology has been designed to provide a more thorough picture of the earth from space, the company claims.

Here’s how the company describes its downlink technology:

10TB of data per day coming down from space at a rate of 1 Gigabit per second. We are pushing the limits of data downlink capacity and need a ground station partner that can capture the data at the velocity that we downlink and at a cost that works for us as a small business.

Our partnership with Norway’s Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) enables us to run lean and fast.

Where small satellites typically operate in the increasingly congested X-band spectrum, we operate in the Ka-band spectrum. Ka is the best way to downlink the volumes of data that we capture in space with just one ground antenna. We are the first commercial small sat company to operate in the Ka-spectrum which means that the ground station infrastructure didn’t exist.

We partnered with KSAT to build the ground infrastructure up in Svalbard, Norway that operates on the Ka-spectrum. We lease the antenna which means we didn’t need the up front capital to setup and own the infrastructure. We designed on a business model that works more like a subscription so that can downlink our massive data load at an optimal cost.

The company’s claims are one thing, but the reality is that there are a slew of companies out in the market (some with much stronger balance sheets) that are competing for a share of the roughly $260 billion spent on global satellites.

CBInsights tracks at last 15 satellite operators vying for the lion’s share of the earth imaging business.

With the satellite launch earlier today (at about 1:36 AM Eastern) Astro Digital has sent its first shot across the bow at these competitors.

The new satellites will join their celestial counterparts at a position 600 kilometers above the earth in a synchronous orbit. The company expects the satellites to be aloft for a bit more than 5 years.

Featured Image: NASA Johnson/Flickr


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