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Twitter User, @PressHerald
Twitter User, @PressHerald

Maine Bed And Breakfast to Sell for $125 and 200 Words

Twitter User, @PressHerald
Twitter User, @PressHerald

If you've always hoped to give up your 9-to-5 job to move to Maine to operate a historic bed and breakfast—one that sits on 12 acres and has scenic views of Kezar Lake and the White Mountains—then the Center Lovell Inn, built in 1805, could be your dream come true. All you need to make it yours is $125, a postage stamp, and the best 200-word essay around.

In 1993, then-owners of the Inn, Bil and Susie Mosca, held an essay contest (entry fee: $100) to find a successor. They chose Janice Sage, who had been managing a 50,000-square-foot restaurant in Maryland before winning ownership of the Inn. But after more than two decades of managing the bed and breakfast, Sage, now 68, is ready to retire. And she's planning her own essay contest to find the Inn's new owner.

"There’s a lot of very talented people in the restaurant business who would like to have their own place but can’t afford it," Sage told the Press Herald. "This is a way for them to have the opportunity to try."

The contest has already been deemed legal in Maine because the essay component makes it a matter of skill and not luck. Sage hopes to receive at least 7500 entries, which would earn her the $900,000 that local real estate agents suggested she list the Inn for—although unlike the Moscas before her, Sage has not promised to stop collecting entrants after she hits that amount.

"If I get more entries, all the better," she said.

To apply, aspiring Inn-owners (18 years of age and older) can send a 200-or-less-word essay on the topic of why they're the right fit, as well as a check for $125, to the Center Lovell Inn postmarked by May 7 (you can read the full instructions here). Sage will narrow down the applicants to a top 20 and from there, two anonymous judges will pick the new owner of the Inn. If you apply, be sure you're ready to dive headfirst into ownership—Sage is hoping to announce a successor on May 21st.

The Moscas are not involved in the contest this time around, but the couple still live in Lovell. Bil is confident that just as it did last time, the essay contest will deliver a fitting new owner for the centuries-old Inn.

He said people often asked him when he and his wife held a contest, "'What if you get the wrong person or what if this person lies to you?' Our answer was and is, 'We trust.' It was part of the magic of this whole thing. And it turned out we were right."

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Pop Culture
An AI Program Wrote Harry Potter Fan Fiction—and the Results Are Hilarious
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

“The castle ground snarled with a wave of magically magnified wind.”

So begins the 13th chapter of the latest Harry Potter installment, a text called Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash. OK, so it’s not a J.K. Rowling original—it was written by artificial intelligence. As The Verge explains, the computer-science whizzes at Botnik Studios created this three-page work of fan fiction after training an algorithm on the text of all seven Harry Potter books.

The short chapter was made with the help of a predictive text algorithm designed to churn out phrases similar in style and content to what you’d find in one of the Harry Potter novels it "read." The story isn’t totally nonsensical, though. Twenty human editors chose which AI-generated suggestions to put into the chapter, wrangling the predictive text into a linear(ish) tale.

While magnified wind doesn’t seem so crazy for the Harry Potter universe, the text immediately takes a turn for the absurd after that first sentence. Ron starts doing a “frenzied tap dance,” and then he eats Hermione’s family. And that’s just on the first page. Harry and his friends spy on Death Eaters and tussle with Voldemort—all very spot-on Rowling plot points—but then Harry dips Hermione in hot sauce, and “several long pumpkins” fall out of Professor McGonagall.

Some parts are far more simplistic than Rowling would write them, but aren’t exactly wrong with regards to the Harry Potter universe. Like: “Magic: it was something Harry Potter thought was very good.” Indeed he does!

It ends with another bit of prose that’s not exactly Rowling’s style, but it’s certainly an accurate analysis of the main current that runs throughout all the Harry Potter books. It reads: “‘I’m Harry Potter,’ Harry began yelling. ‘The dark arts better be worried, oh boy!’”

Harry Potter isn’t the only work of fiction that Jamie Brew—a former head writer for ClickHole and the creator of Botnik’s predictive keyboard—and other Botnik writers have turned their attention to. Botnik has previously created AI-generated scripts for TV shows like The X-Files and Scrubs, among other ridiculous machine-written parodies.

To delve into all the magical fiction that Botnik users have dreamed up, follow the studio on Twitter.

[h/t The Verge]

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entertainment
Netflix's Most-Binged Shows of 2017, Ranked
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Netflix might know your TV habits better than you do. Recently, the entertainment company's normally tight-lipped number-crunchers looked at user data collected between November 1, 2016 and November 1, 2017 to see which series people were powering through and which ones they were digesting more slowly. By analyzing members’ average daily viewing habits, they were able to determine which programs were more likely to be “binged” (or watched for more than two hours per day) and which were more often “savored” (or watched for less than two hours per day) by viewers.

They found that the highest number of Netflix bingers glutted themselves on the true crime parody American Vandal, followed by the Brazilian sci-fi series 3%, and the drama-mystery 13 Reasons Why. Other shows that had viewers glued to the couch in 2017 included Anne with an E, the Canadian series based on L. M. Montgomery's 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables, and the live-action Archie comics-inspired Riverdale.

In contrast, TV shows that viewers enjoyed more slowly included the Emmy-winning drama The Crown, followed by Big Mouth, Neo Yokio, A Series of Unfortunate Events, GLOW, Friends from College, and Ozark.

There's a dark side to this data, though: While the company isn't around to judge your sweatpants and the chip crumbs stuck to your couch, Netflix is privy to even your most embarrassing viewing habits. The company recently used this info to publicly call out a small group of users who turned their binges into full-fledged benders:

Oh, and if you're the one person in Antarctica binging Shameless, the streaming giant just outed you, too.

Netflix broke down their full findings in the infographic below and, Big Brother vibes aside, the data is pretty fascinating. It even includes survey data on which shows prompted viewers to “Netflix cheat” on their significant others and which shows were enjoyed by the entire family.

Netflix infographic "The Year in Bingeing"
Netflix

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