Monday, May 22, 2017

"Pittsburgh Welcomed Uber’s Driverless Car Experiment. Not Anymore"


Nine months later, Pittsburgh residents and officials say Uber has not lived up to its end of the bargain. Among Uber’s perceived transgressions: The company began charging for driverless rides that were initially pitched as free. It also withdrew support from Pittsburgh’s application for a $50 million federal grant to revamp transportation. And it has not created the jobs it proposed in a struggling neighborhood that houses its autonomous car testing track.

Blame is being pointed in many directions. While Mr. Peduto had trumpeted his relationship with Uber’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick, he didn’t get any commitments in writing

Link roundup

1. "As crime dries up, Japan’s police hunt for things to do"

2. "Here are ALL of the Nathan Fillion as Simon Williams/Wonder Man posters cut from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in one place."

3. "'I'm ruined': Workers realize too late that they signed away the right to other jobs"

4. "The Supreme Court ruled Monday that racial considerations pervaded the way North Carolina lawmakers drew congressional maps after the 2010 Census in order to maximize Republicans' advantage."

5. "Microsoft says this Chinese ‘gaming service’ company is hacking Xbox accounts"

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Reminder: I have a Pinterest board for RPG avatars

If you're ever looking for inspiration or an avatar.

"medals awarded at the Rio Olympics are falling to pieces and will be replaced"

"Made with recycled materials, the medals concerned have either suffered unsightly staining or had the covering fall away."

"Several publications credited Catherine Hettinger as the inventor of the fidget spinner. She isn’t."


Over the last week or so, a wave of media outlets, including the Guardian and the New York Times, have declared that Catherine Hettinger, a woman living in the Orlando area, is the inventor of the fidget spinner. Hettinger isn’t involved in any of the companies that are making the popular toys and told a reporter at the Guardian that she is having financial difficulties. The press coverage quickly congealed around an interpretation summed up expertly by the headline writers at the New York Post: “Woman Who Invented Fidget Spinner Isn’t Getting Squat.”


Aside from the Wikipedia page, Hettinger acknowledged that there is no evidence of a direct connection between her own plastic disc and the fidget spinners that are popular today. She said she doesn’t have an opinion on whether her patent would apply to them. “You’re going to have to call a patent attorney. This is way beyond me,” she said.


“Let’s just say that I’m claimed to be the inventor,” she said. “You know, ‘Wikipedia claims,’ or something like that.”

"Trump Supporters Have Built A Document With The Addresses And Phone Numbers Of Thousands Of Anti-Trump Activists"


The original poster shared a link to a petition from, writing, "These fucking imbecilic 'antifa' have given us a wonderful gift!! They have created a list of names for /pol/ to crawl through and cross check all the hundreds of antifa sympathizers."


By the next day, 4chan users began organizing a way to look up the names on's petition by turning it into a game.




"Ivanka Trump’s women entrepreneurs fund takes $100 million from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates"

"Get Ready for the Next Big Privacy Backlash Against Facebook"


a leaked confidential document prepared by Facebook that revealed the company had offered advertisers the opportunity to target 6.4 million younger users, some only 14 years old, during moments of psychological vulnerability, such as when they felt “worthless,” “insecure,” “stressed,” “defeated,” “anxious,” and like a “failure.”


The day the story broke, Facebook quickly issued a public statement arguing that the premise of the article was “misleading” because “Facebook does not offer tools to target people based on their emotional state.” The social network also promised that the research on younger users “was never used to target ads.” The analysis on minors did not follow Facebook’s research review protocols, the company wrote, so Facebook would be “reviewing the details to correct the oversight,” implying that the analysis had not been sanctioned by headquarters in Menlo Park.

A spokesperson for Facebook tells WIRED that the research had been commissioned by an advertiser. But Facebook’s public statement did not make that clear or explain how the research on minors ended up in a presentation to potential advertisers.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

NBA player "Enes Kanter Detained In Romania, Says [Turkish] Passport Has Been Seized For Political Beliefs"


Kanter has been a vocal critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the past.


If Kanter is deported to Turkey, it’s possible that he could be arrested for his outspoken criticism of Erdoğan.

The Murders of Molly Southbourne is terrific

It's too bad that Tade Thompson's new novella The Murders of Molly Southbourne won't be released until October, because it was a perfect appetizer for Twin Peaks--an idyllic small town upbringing, surreal horror, sex that's sweet and sickening (sometimes at the same time), and doppelgangers. I highly recommend adding it to your wishlist to enjoy next Halloween.

(By the way, All Systems Red, a light-hearted scifi thriller I recommended a few months ago, is now available.)

"Italian police accused a mafia-linked gang of controlling one of the country’s largest migrant centers"


On Monday, police arrested 68 people linked to the operation, and charged them with skimming $35 million in funds destined to help new arrivals over the past decade.

Among those arrested was a Catholic priest who was paid almost $150,000 in a single year for providing “spiritual services.”


Investigators said “that the clan controlled, for profit, the management of the reception centre” at Isola di Capo Rizzuto and had been doing so for over a decade.


This is not the first time the Arena clan has branched out into areas not typically associated with mafia operations. In 2012, Italian police seized assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars — including one of Europe’s largest wind farms.

"What happens when Columbo’s cases go to court?"

An episode by episode answer to the question, “As a former prosecutor, how many of Columbo’s cases would actually hold up in court?”

Friday, May 19, 2017