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Hell hath no fury: how to plunder the underworld

If you've caught our recent references to The Temptation of St. Anthony and the oeuvre of James Ensor, you'll know we've been on something of a Disturbing Old Paintings kick of late. But Ensor's dancing skeletons and Anthony's nightmare creatures have nothing on Pieter Bruegel the Elder's Dulle Griet (short for Dulle Griet, Who is Looking at the Mouth of Hell, AKA Mad Meg). Whence this nightmarish vision? Assuming Bruegel wasn't snacking on tainted rye while painting, he probably took a cue from a traditional Flemish folktale about a peasant woman who leads a female army to plunder Hell. In the painting she wears a soldier's breastplate over her dress, hair streaming from under a helmet, and runs across a landscape toward the mouth of Hell -- emerging grotesquely from the side of a hill -- with a sword in one hand and bundles of modest loot -- food, iron, pots and pans -- in the other.

The whole painting, and some fun context, after the jump:

For a full-screen view, click here.
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Art critic Jonathan Jones:
"Armies pillaged Europe routinely in the 16th and 17th centuries; it was an acknowledged way for soldiers to be "paid". In this painting, the army is beaten at its own game by tough peasant women. Their leader Dulle Griet is an anti-hero, energetic and courageous, the tragicomic spirit of survival. Above her, the sky blazes red; hell and earth are merging. Behind Dulle Griet to the right, a mob of women are beating the damned, while soldiers seem timid in comparison. The women, knocking the mutants out of their way and defying the army, are looting houses and ransacking the ruined land."

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New AI-Driven Music System Analyzes Tracks for Perfect Playlists
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Whether you're planning a bachelorette party or recovering from a breakup, a well-curated playlist makes all the difference. If you don't have time to pick the perfect songs manually, services that use the AI-driven system Sonic Style may be able to figure out exactly what you have in mind based on your request.

According to Fast Company, Sonic Style is the new music-categorizing service from the media and entertainment data provider Gracenote. There are plenty of music algorithms out there already, but Sonic Style works a little differently. Rather than listing the entire discography of a certain artist under a single genre, the AI analyzes individual tracks. It considers factors like the artist's typical genre and the era the song was recorded in, as well as qualities it can only learn through listening, like tempo and mood. Based on nearly 450 descriptors, it creates a super-accurate "style profile" of the track that makes it easier for listeners to find it when searching for the perfect song to fit an occasion.

Playlists that use data from Sonic Style feel like they were made by a person with a deep knowledge of music rather than a machine. That's thanks to the system's advanced neural network. It also recognizes artists that don't fit neatly into one genre, or that have evolved into a completely different music style over their careers. Any service—including music-streaming platforms and voice-activated assistants—that uses Gracenote's data will be able to take advantage of the new technology.

With AI at your disposal, all you have to do as the listener is decide on a style of music. Here are some ideas to get you started if you want a playlist for productivity.

[h/t Fast Company]

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