Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Start of Walter Chaw's review of The Beguiled


Her films are examinations of the liminal field between girlhood and womanhood, littered with casualties and trenches, the one left behind and the other ahead, maybe eternally out of reach. Her moment is immortalized one way in father Francis Ford Coppola's decision to cast her as the main love interest in The Godfather Part III, a late replacement for Winona Ryder. Sofia's failure, and her father's betrayal of her by failing to protect her from it, is traumatic, though perhaps not much more than any adolescence--just public, cast into the collective, as it were, for the wolves to worry. It is one of a select company of misfires that is almost universally known. Sofia immortalizes the devastation of her experience in movies that speak, lyrically, to the tragedy of coming-of-age for a young woman.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

"Gung-ho culture at tour agency Warmbier used on N.Korea trip"


Beer-soaked “booze cruises” down North Korea’s Taedong River. Scuba diving trips off the country’s eastern coast. Saint Patrick’s Day pub crawls in Pyongyang featuring drinking games with cheery locals.

Since 2008, the Young Pioneer Tours agency built up a business attracting young travelers with a competitively priced catalog of exotic-sounding, hard-partying adventures in one of the world’s most isolated countries.

But the death on Monday of 22-year-old American student Otto Warmbier, who was arrested during a Young Pioneer tour to North Korea in late 2015

"Brits and Thais race to close stolen supercar pipeline"


Dozens of supercars including Lamborghinis, Porsches and BMWs have been stolen from the streets of Britain and shipped to Thailand in a complex scam that police from both countries are now rushing to dismantle.


The dealership's owner Indharasak Techaterasiri -- who goes by the nickname "Boy Unity" and is well-known on the luxury car circuit -- told AFP he was baffled that the seven cars were reported stolen.

"We investigate allegations involving a Chinese billionaire and a controversial alternative health scheme in Africa"


Living in a poor country with one of the worst doctor-patient ratios in the world - about one for every 24,000 people - it's perhaps no surprise that many Ugandans are tempted by alternative remedies, even though there's often little evidence to support the claims made about their efficacy in treating or preventing disease. But the phenomenon does beg many questions, not least of which are who is really benefiting from the sale of these products and how exactly are they marketed?

We'd heard reports about one particularly controversial business, a complex multi-level marketing scheme run in Uganda under the aegis of a Chinese company called Tiens, which produces food supplements.

"Profile Picture Robbery Is So Bad In India That Facebook Is Letting People Block Screenshots"


Facebook said it came up with the feature after the company’s research found that some women in India didn't share profile pictures with faces because they were concerned they might be misused.


Facebook also found that pictures overlaid with designs are 75% less likely to be copied by others, so users in India can now choose from a half dozen designs to add to their profile pictures. This is what that looks like:

"A network of dummy online stores offering household goods has been used as a front for internet gambling payments"


The scheme found by Reuters involved websites which accepted payments for household items from a reporter but did not deliver any products. Instead, staff who answered helpdesk numbers on the sites said the outlets did not sell the product advertised, but that they were used to help process gambling payments, mostly for Americans.


Fraud specialists say dummy stores like those found by Reuters are not meant to be visited by the normal public. They are designed to be hard to spot, and their role is simply as a shop front to back up the bogus description.

"NASA Calls Bullshit on Goop's $120 'Bio-Frequency Healing' Sticker Packs"

"Update 1:25 pm: Goop has pulled their claim regarding NASA from its website, and provided the following statement to Gizmodo"

"A series of strange and unsettling fires in the Mission District have people wondering: Are the city’s landlords using arson to drive out low-income tenants?"


Property prices have skyrocketed, and something strange and terrible has started happening: a spate of mysterious fires. There were 45 of them in 2015 and 2016, displacing 198 people and killing three, including a child. Legal evictions in San Francisco are costly and difficult, and so a lot of locals have started wondering: Could there be a plot by landlord arsonists to clear out the district to make way for the tech people?


I later spoke with the former head of the San Francisco Fire Department’s Arson Task Force, John Darmanin. He told me he didn’t know of any cases of arson explicitly tied to landlords wanting to get rich from gentrification but that the arson department was so overloaded and under-resourced that cases “do not get the level of professionalism and investigation that they deserve.” There were fires, he said, that “very well could have been arson, but we just didn’t have the manpower to devote to those cases.”

Spider-Man: Homecoming Iron Man figure by Hot Toys available for preorder

At the BBTS.

Also just posted for preorder are some Kirby Nendoroids.

"Why So Many Top Hackers Hail from Russia"


If more people in Russia than in America decide to take the computer science exam in secondary school, it may be because Russian students are required to study the subject beginning at a much younger age.


There also are stark differences in how computer science/informatics is taught in the two countries, as well as the level of mastery that exam-takers are expected to demonstrate in their respective exams.
If more people in Russia than in America decide to take the computer science exam in secondary school, it may be because Russian students are required to study the subject beginning at a much younger age.


computer science still is far less popular than most other AP test subjects in the United States. More than a half million students opted for the English AP exam in 2016; 405,000 took English literature; almost 283,000 took AP government, while some 159,000 students went for an AP test called “Human Geography.”

"Macedonian Publishers Are Panicking After Facebook Killed Their US Political Pages"


The removal of roughly three dozen pages owned by Macedonian publishers is a result of Facebook’s push to rid its platform of spammers, fake news publishers, and others who violate its terms of service. But it’s also a reminder that no one really “owns” a Facebook page, in spite of how much money they might spend growing it. And while Facebook did not specifically target Macedonian publishers, the removals may have been in part a result of a strategy executed by a small group of American publishers who told BuzzFeed News they grew tired of having their content stolen by Macedonians.

“Macedonians refused to stop stealing my material,” said Christopher Blair, who goes by the online handle Busta Troll and runs,

"The Government Says It Wasted Millions of Dollars Dressing the Afghan Army in Proprietary Camouflage"


as much as $28 million of that cost was tacked on to pay for a proprietary camouflage pattern


According to the report, the pattern—a green-and-brown forest scheme useless for concealment in the 97.9 percent of Afghanistan’s landscape that isn’t forest


HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp., a company whose name seems to have tumbled out of a comic book (and which has, in fact, made uniforms for a Marvel movie, the bad Iron Man one).

Founded in 1999, the Canadian company started out around a plan to make “hyperbaric chambers and passive negative-ion generators for professional hockey players,” according to the Atlantic, but later pivoted to making copyrighted camouflage patterns
Relatedly, Zero History is my favorite book.