Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Westworld ARG



Westworld has an ARG. The image above appears if you click and hold on the site's logo.  Also, holding the shift button shows this.

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson is terrific

$2.99 at Amazon:

Professor Vellitt Boe teaches at the prestigious Ulthar Women’s College. When one of her most gifted students elopes with a dreamer from the waking world, Vellitt must retrieve her.
Sort of a cross between Frodo's early adventures upon leaving the shire and The Graveyard Book. I frequently stopped and reread passages because I enjoyed them so much.

"Fox Updating King Arthur as Police Procedural Drama 'Camelot'"

THR:

The drama, which landed at Fox in a competitive situation with a script plus penalty commitment, reimagines the legendary stories of King Arthur in a police procedural. When an ancient magic reawakens in modern-day Manhattan, a graffiti artist named Art must team with his best friend Lance and his ex, Gwen — an idealistic cop — in order to realize his destiny and fight back against the evil forces that threaten the city.

...

Familiar IP continues to be in high demand as broadcast networks, cable and streaming services look to cut through a cluttered landscape featuring more than 400 original scripted series. For its part, Fox has found success with its twist on Sleepy Hollow

Force Awakens level added to Star Wars Battle Pod arcade game



"All GOP State Senate Candidates Have Same Kids In Ads"

ISL:

It seems all the targeted Republican state senate candidates had a big TV shoot recently, as they’ve all posted their first ads online in the past few weeks.

...

one thing does stand out: each candidate is talking to the exact same group of students in the exact same school hallway.

It seems the Republicans’ Senate Majority Fund brought in all their targeted candidates and senators to one city to do a big joint TV shoot with their consultant.

Stylized Ron Perlman figure



The latest edition to the Gangsters Kingdom line is Heart 3 Bartley.

"Local people, along with many economists and officials, often think these data centers are a key to an industrial revival. But the reality is less impressive"

NYT:

Mecklenburg County, which received $2.1 million from the state for the project, has given Microsoft 350 acres and offset personal property taxes by 82.5 percent, according to Wayne Carter, the county administrator.

...


“I’ve worked on a lot of nuclear power plants, and these things are a lot bigger than that,” said E. W. Gregory, the head of the local electrical workers’ union. But “the first thing they put in was a guard shack and a fence. I’ve filled rooms with people looking for entry-level work. None of it lasts.”

The companies come to places like Boydton for basics like land, water and electricity. Even with low local wages, people are a high-cost item. As small as the staffs at these mammoth facilities are, companies say, perhaps a third of the company jobs will eventually be filled by robots.

DC Comics super hero figures are the next Happy Meal toys at McDonald's

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

ThreeA's Black Widow figure available for preorder

At the BBTS.

"The Philippine Drug Crackdown Has Claimed 2,000 Lives in Two Months"

"Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines since June 30, has continued his bloody war on illegal drugs, resulting in more than 2,000 violent deaths over the past two months at the hands of law enforcement, vigilante groups, and other unidentified actors."

White Dwarf magazine is back



GW:

It’s here at last – the start of the latest, greatest incarnation of White Dwarf, the Ultimate Warhammer Magazine. At 156 full-colour A4 pages, it’s a beast of a magazine bringing you all your favourites from White Dwarf’s long history, freshly re-imagined, alongside a whole heap of stuff you never dreamed of. We’ve got all the latest news in Planet Warhammer, Army of the Month, the Battle Report, A Tale of Four Warlords, the Ultimate Guide, Blanchitsu, Readers’ Models and much, much more. That’s not to mention that this issue is a boxed game special, bringing you 24 pages of rules for no less than 9 different games! This is simply the finest issue of White Dwarf we’ve ever made. Get one now – and check out our subscription offers, because there’s much, much more to come.

Released on Friday 2 September, the first issue comes with our most amazing cover mount ever, a special gift to you to celebrate the glorious return of monthly White Dwarf.

"There is no national database of guns. We have no centralized record of who owns . . . the firearms"

GQ:

Anytime a cop in any jurisdiction in America wants to connect a gun to its owner, the request for help ends up here, at the National Tracing Center, in a low, flat, boring building that belies its past as an IRS facility, just off state highway 9 in Martinsburg, West Virginia

...

The National Tracing Center is not allowed to have centralized computer data.

“That's the big no-no,” says Charlie.

That's been a federal law, thanks to the NRA, since 1986: No searchable database of America's gun owners. So people here have to use paper, sort through enormous stacks of forms and record books that gun stores are required to keep and to eventually turn over to the feds when requested. It's kind of like a library in the old days—but without the card catalog. They can use pictures of paper, like microfilm (they recently got the go-ahead to convert the microfilm to PDFs), as long as the pictures of paper are not searchable. You have to flip through and read. No searching by gun owner. No searching by name.

...

Every corridor in the whole place is lined with boxes, boxes up to the eyeballs. In the loading dock, there's a forklift beeping, bringing in more boxes. “You go, ‘Whoa!’ ” he says. “Okay? Yeah, but a million a month?” Almost 2 million new gun records every month he has to figure out what to do with.

"A 25-year-old with no Trump ties raises $1 million by dangling 'dinner' with the GOP nominee"

Po:

In just its first three weeks of operation, Hawes’ PAC spent more than $108,000 on Facebook ads, offering an opportunity to win “Dinner with Donald Trump” — and netted itself nearly $350,000 in donations, according to federal records.

The biggest chunk of the money raised — $133,000 — went to a company that Hawes founded and owns, CartSoft LLC. The purpose of the payments is described on federal records as “media” and “media purchasing,” though CartSoft’s website describes itself as an online payment-processing platform.

Since its launch, the PAC has collected more than $1 million, Hawes told POLITICO. It has reportedly spent $0 on behalf of Trump.

...

But the dinner scheme is just the beginning.

"International corporations that want to intimidate countries have access to a private legal system designed just for them"

BF:

ISDS was originally devised as a forum in which to resolve conflicts between countries and the foreign companies that do business within their borders. But the system puts countries at a striking disadvantage.

Only companies can bring suit. A country can only defend itself; it cannot sue a company. Arbitrators who decide the cases are often drawn from the ranks of the same highly paid corporate lawyers who argue ISDS cases. These arbitrators have broad authority to interpret the rules however they want, without regard to precedent and with almost no public oversight.

...

ISDS was once an obscure quirk of international law, but it has exploded in recent years, as elite law firms have devised new and creative ways to deploy it.


...

A Newcrest spokesman told reporters at the time that the company regretted that the shooting had occurred, but said, “It’s really in a sense nothing to do with Newcrest although it did happen on our site.”

"A crucial clinical trial of the most promising new treatment for Parkinson’s disease in decades might be delayed because of a feud between a key scientist and the influential Michael J. Fox Foundation"

SN:

The trial offers Moussa, a little-known scientist, a chance to vault into the top ranks of researchers, while Fox and its collaborators could reinforce their standing and tap into a bonanza of donations from wealthy philanthropists and worried patients.

The episode also highlights the tension between scientists and foundations that are no longer content simply to dole out money. Following the lead of the colossal Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, major medical research philanthropies increasingly seek to coordinate or manage studies, or control details of how they are done — vexing many grant recipients.

"The U.S. is on track this year to post the longest stretch of falling food prices in more than 50 years"

WSJ:

Nationwide, the price of a gallon of whole milk on average was down 11% to $3.06 in July over a year ago; the price of a dozen large eggs fell 40% to $1.55 in the same period.

...

The glut is so severe in some places that dairy farmers have been dumping millions of pounds of excess milk onto fields. The U.S. Department of Agriculture just bought $20 million worth of cheese in response to hard-hit dairy farmers’ requests. The cheese was given to food banks and others through USDA nutrition-assistance programs.

"Japan’s $320 Million Gamble at Fukushima: An Underground Ice Wall"

NYT:

the ice wall is intended to seal off the reactor buildings within a vast, rectangular-shaped barrier of man-made permafrost. If it becomes successfully operational as soon as this autumn, the frozen soil will act as a dam to block new groundwater from entering the buildings. It will also help stop leaks of radioactive water into the nearby Pacific Ocean, which have decreased significantly since the calamity but may be continuing.

However, the ice wall has also been widely criticized as an expensive and overly complex solution that may not even work.

...

Since the accident, five robots sent into the reactor buildings have failed to return

Monday, August 29, 2016

Two books from my wishlist on sale at Amazon:

Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam is $1.99:

The inspiration for the 2016 Sundance Film Festival documentary, NUTS!. “An extraordinary saga of the most dangerous quack of all time...entrancing” –USA Today

In 1917, John R. Brinkley–America’s most brazen con man–introduced an outlandish surgical method for restoring fading male virility.

It was all nonsense, but thousands of eager customers quickly made “Dr.” Brinkley one of America’s richest men–and a national celebrity. The great quack buster Morris Fishbein vowed to put the country’ s “most daring and dangerous” charlatan out of business, yet each effort seemed only to spur Brinkley to new heights of ingenuity, and the worlds of advertising, broadcasting, and politics soon proved to be equally fertile grounds for his potent brand of flimflam.

Culminating in a decisive courtroom confrontation, Charlatan is a marvelous portrait of a boundlessly audacious rogue on the loose in an America ripe for the bamboozling.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle: A Novel is $2.99:
George V. Higgins's seminal crime novel is a down-and-dirty tale of thieves, mobsters, and cops on the mean streets of Boston. When small-time gunrunner Eddie Coyle is convicted on a felony, he's looking at three years in the pen--that is, unless he sells out one of his big-fish clients to the DA. But which of the many hoods, gunmen, and executioners whom he calls his friends should he send up the river? Told almost entirely in crackling dialogue by a vivid cast of lowlifes and detectives, The Friends of Eddie Coyle is one of the greatest crime novels ever written.

“The best crime novel ever written--makes The Maltese Falcon read like Nancy Drew.” -- Elmore Leonard

"I tried to help this psychiatrist figure out why Facebook is recommending that her patients friend each other"

Fu:

“He laughed and said, ‘I don’t know any of these people who showed up on my list— I’m guessing they see you,'” recounted Lisa. “He showed me the list of friend recommendations, and I recognized some of my patients.”

She sat there awkwardly and silently. To let him know that his suspicion was correct would violate her duty to protect her patients’ privacy.

Another one of her female patients had a friend recommendation pop up for a fellow patient she recognized from the office’s elevator. Suddenly, she knew the other patient’s full name along with all their Facebook profile information.

"Several SoCal USPS Employees Charged With Stealing Or Not Delivering Mail"

LAi:

Norman A. Muschamp, 48, who worked for the Mid-City District of Los Angeles, is accused of taking part in a scheme where information from victims of ID theft was used to order pre-paid PayPal debit cards and have them sent to fake addresses along his route. He is accused of receiving the debit cards from the mail, then giving them to the others involved in the alleged conspiracy in exchange for cash.

Sherry Naomi Watanabe, 48, is accused of hoarding mail as opposed to delivering it to customers along her Placentia route. According to a plea agreement, she was found to have over 48,000 pieces of mail that she was supposed to deliver stored in her home.

Magneto comics illustrated by Gabriel Walta are on sale today

99 cents each (cross purchase for Amazon/Comixology). Kris Anka X-Men, too.

"I noticed Panera has a 'gluten-conscious cookie.' What does that mean?"

AP interview with Panera's CEO:

A: That is gluten-free cookies in a world where the lawyers won't let you say "gluten free." You cannot walk into a Panera and be a celiac without having flour dust in the air. We're not telling you this is celiac standard. So our lawyers say we can't say gluten free. They're gluten conscious.

Having said that, there is no gluten in that cookie. That doesn't mean that your personal injury lawyers have permission to go after us.

Q: So your lawyers came up with the name?

A: As a simple, single soul that goes into Panera, I feel good about eating that cookie because I often try to avoid gluten. It has no gluten in that cookie. I'm not telling you that it meets the highest standards of whatever.

I think it's a stupid name.

Q: Why is the CEO of Panera trying to avoid gluten?

A: There are times when I want to eat it, and times that I don't. I would suggest that gluten tends to be tied to carbs. And I try to balance my carbs and my proteins and my fats.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Unlocking puzzle box

A video posted by Kagen Sound (@kagensound) on

"California bans ITT tech from accepting new students"

LAT:

“We took today’s action in the interest of protecting potential students who are considering enrolling in ITT.”

...

ITT operates vocational schools at more than 130 campuses in 38 states, often under the ITT Technical Institute name. Last year, it enrolled 45,000 students and reported $850 million in revenue.

"When the government planned to make it easier for mutual funds to quit mailing investors billions of pages of reports each year, the paper industry got involved"

WSJ:

American mutual funds estimate they spend more than $300 million every year chewing up 2 million trees to print and send investors 440 million densely written reports—which many recipients promptly toss out unread.

...

So last year, regulators proposed what to them was an obvious adaptation to the age of Venmo, bitcoin and mobile banking: make it easier for funds to provide certain records electronically.

But what was logical progress to some loomed as a menace to others—notably the American Forest & Paper Association and the Envelope Manufacturers Association. The two industries’ jointly funded group Consumers for Paper Options rallied retiree and consumer groups to join their campaign, decrying what they call the government’s “rush to digitize.” They persuaded a bipartisan coalition of politicians—especially from the paper-heavy state of Maine—to threaten legislation blocking the rule.

"Carson Block, the renowned short-seller and founder of research firm Muddy Waters LLC, has taken a short position in St. Jude Medical Inc., denouncing the security of its cardiac devices"

B:

Block warned that tens of thousands of Americans are living with ticking time bombs: St. Jude pacemakers and defibrillators that are easily compromised, causing potentially fatal disruptions.

..

Muddy Waters became aware of the potential flaws after a startup cybersecurity company, Miami-based MedSec Holdings Inc., approached the short-selling firm three months ago. The hackers had been working for more than a year, ferreting out security flaws in medical devices made by four leading companies. One stood out from the rest: St. Jude’s products had an “astounding” level of problems, including lack of encryption and authentication between devices, which could allow hackers to tap into implanted devices, said MedSec Chief Executive Officer Justine Bone, herself an experienced hacker.

Bone said her company’s compensation is tied to the success of Block’s trade, an arrangement she knows will lead to some criticism.

"The War on Rhinos? It’s an Investment Bubble"

SB:

Since the start of the current war on rhinos, in 2006, journalists and wildlife trafficking experts alike have treated the trade as a product of Asia’s new-found wealth combined with old-style traditional medicine: Rich buyers pay astounding sums for rhino horn in the belief that it will cure cancer or a host of other ills.

This reporting often comes with an undertone of bafflement or even thinly veiled condescension. Buyers, mainly in China and Vietnam, appear to be so naive that they ignore the total absence of scientific support for the medicinal value of rhino horn and put their faith instead in a substance that is the biochemical equivalent of a fingernail.

But a new paper in the journal Biological Conservation raises a startling alternative theory. Rhinos are dying by the hundreds for what may be in essence an investment bubble, like tulips in 17th-century Holland or real estate in 1920s Florida.

...

“Rhino horn pieces are portrayed in the Chinese media,” Gao and his coauthors write, “as an excellent investment opportunity whose value is tied more to the rarity of the raw materials rather than the artistic nature of the item. The aggressive media attention has played a significant role in the growth of the art market.” Press reporting about outlier items—those sold for astronomically high prices—“drives the perception that collecting rhino horn is highly profitable and influences black market prices.”

"The Average Joe Accused of Trying to Sell Russia Secrets"

TDB:

When promotion after promotion passed satellite engineer Gregory Allen Justice by, he allegedly turned to the Russians to solve his family’s dire financial straits.

...

The story of Justice is a cautionary tale of low employee morale combined with a 49-year-old man’s overactive imagination. As described in the affidavit, Justice’s preferred method for escaping the frustrations and anxieties of everyday life seemed to be watching Jason Bourne films and popular spy shows, like The Americans, a critically acclaimed series about deep-cover Soviet spies that Justice supposedly mentioned multiple times to his contact. Even the questions he allegedly asked about his handler’s exact role in the Russian government—quizzing him about the FSB, Russia’s successor to the KGB—sound as if he had watched The Bourne Supremacy one too many times.

Justice had apparently been prepping for this act of corporate and national betrayal for several years. Starting back in 2013, he allegedly began spending thousands of dollars on online training courses, signing up for such topics as “Spy Escape and Evasion” and “Legally Concealed.” According to FBI computer records, Justice also researched the “sovereign citizen” movement and its highly esoteric arguments that U.S. citizens are, in fact, Constitutionally immune to any form of federal oversight, including income tax.

Justice clearly reveled in what many military and security professionals jokingly deride as “tacticool.”

Friday, August 26, 2016

"That woman who had a cricket-throwing meltdown on an NYC subway now says it was all an act"

F:

On Friday, an 18 minute video began circulating on Facebook, which depicted the entire incident—including the moment when the insects were released, first by the woman, then by another passenger who hits the container of bugs out of her hand. Unlike the blurry Instagram footage, this video is clear, and contains shots from multiple angles. It’s the sort of video which gives the impression that maybe this wasn’t such a spontaneous event, after all.

Intrigued, we called Zaida Pugh, the woman who posted the video, to find out where the footage came from. After speaking for some time, Pugh admitted finally “‘It was a prank, I’m an actress. That was me.”

The entire episode, she said, was a performance art piece meant to highlight the way people with mental and emotional health issues are treated.

“I did this to show how people react to situations with homeless people and people with mental health,” Pugh explained. “How they’re more likely to pull out their phone than help.”

Pugh, 21, claims to have done over 50 similar “pranks.”

“I hate doing auditions, and I really like the reactions,” she explained. “I like it when it goes viral and people react and think.”

In fact, this is not Pugh’s first brush with viral fame.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sad rock creature

"A hepatitis A outbreak in Hawaii has sickened at least 168 people, with at least 46 of them hospitalized"

"Health officials found that the outbreak was likely linked to frozen scallops served raw at a chain of sushi restaurants, Genki Sushi."

The latest edition of Doom is $19.99 at Amazon

PS4 and XboxOne. The Collector's Edition is 58% off.

New tee at Last Exit to Nowhere

Based on The Lost Boys.

Daisy Ridley was an excellent guest on the most recent episode of the My Dad Wrote a Porno podcast

Link.

"Should I Switch to Aluminum-Free Deodorant?"

TSH:

There are two rumors, older than “them thar hills,” that aluminum in underarm antiperspirant is potentially harmful to our health. The first is that it causes breast cancer, the second is that it causes Alzheimer’s. There isn’t any good evidence for either.

The recently opened Marcus Mariota Sports Performance Center at the University of Oregon

GD:

The physiology area is the most eye-catching with a small boxing ring for shadow boxing, complete with overhead ring lighting in the shape of a glowing yellow "O." It is important to note that no sparring is allowed in the boxing ring; it is for exercise purposes only. The area also features heavy punch bags, speed bags, exercise bikes, antigravity treadmills and strength diagnostic areas in the form of instrumented platforms. The physiology area also contains a bone density scanner and an examination room, as well as a neurocognitive center, which in part will help diagnose and treat concussion symptoms.

"Vogue Brazil criticised for photographs of able-bodied actors digitally altered to look like Paralympians"

T:

A publicity campaign for the Rio 2016 Paralympics has come under fire for digitally altering photos of able-bodied pin ups to give them disabilities.

The images of actors Cleo Pires and Paulo Vilhena, who are ambassadors for the Brazilian Paralympic Committee (CPB), appeared in Vogue Brazil under the tag “We are all Paralympians”.

They had been photoshopped to feature the disabilities of Paralympic table tennis player Bruna Alexandre, who had her right arm amputated when she was just three months old, and sitting volleyball player Renato Leite, who has a prosthetic leg.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

"Designing Symbols of Identity for the Refugee Olympic Team"

"my first reaction was to use black and orange, the colours of the life vests. My second reaction was to design a flag so easy that a six-year-old kid can draw it.”

Gilbert Gottfried podcast about the The Golden Girls

He interviewed the author of a book about the show--anecdotes include Bea Arthur so hating being teased about her looks that she was driven to tears at a script-reading.

Nnedi Okorafor talks about the inspiration for Binti

The scifi novella that just won the Hugo award had present day inspiration:

My own situation inspired the plot- I left my rather close-knitted Nigerian American family in Chicago to go teach at the University at Buffalo, NY. It was a contentious departure. Writing Binti was a way of exploring my own fears of making the wrong choice (which it wasn't). I'd also never written a story set in space because space scares me. Facing and conquering fear seems to be at the heart of the novella's inspiration . . . . Also, I have always loved the Himba people of Namibia, so I knew I wanted to write about them at some point. And lastly, for some reason, I was inspired to write murderous aliens when I saw a sweet little blue jellyfish in a lagoon while in the strange awesome country of the United Arab Emirates.

"Small towns can’t handle the sharing economy tourism boom"

F:

In the teeny-tiny village of Joshua Tree, California, population 7,000, there are more than 200 vacation rentals on Airbnb.

...

In recent years, visitors to Joshua Tree National Park have soared, and last year the number of visitors hit a record high, surging by more than 27 percent to over 2 million.

...

Whereas before visitors might have been forced to find a new vacation destination if all the local hotels had booked up, now admirers of the region’s famous stark landscape have a bevy of alternatives.

"Curt Schilling Is the Next Donald Trump"

RS:

He's living proof of a truism H.L. Mencken noted nearly 100 years ago, i.e. that for a certain kind of person in America, failure is something you've got to sprint after at full speed to catch – it won't come to you:

"In the United States the business of getting a living is enormously easier than it is in any other Christian land – so easy, in fact, that a forehanded man who fails at it must almost make deliberate efforts to that end.

"Here the general average of intelligence, of knowledge, of competence, of integrity, of self-respect, of honor is so low that any man who knows his trade, does not fear ghosts, has read fifty good books, and practices the common decencies stands out as brilliantly as a wart on a bald head."

...

he might run for high office anyway, and would get lots of people to fund his effort, still more proof of how awesome it is to be a white guy in America.

Here you can be not just a failure, not just a spectacular failure, but a spectacular public failure, and people will keep throwing money and opportunities at you.

"Kuwait’s new DNA collection law is scarier than we ever imagined"

F:

[Government officials were quoted] saying the government will use the DNA database “to aid in the verification of Kuwaiti citizens,” while another official said the data will help “arrest forgers and others who falsely claim their lineage.” Senior officials at the Ministry of the Interior told the newspaper Al-Shahed last week that they expect 200,000 people to refuse DNA testing, fearing that their true bloodlines will be exposed.

...

Kuwaiti citizenship is restricted to families that have been there since 1920, and is passed down through fathers’ bloodlines, with few exceptions. Out of a population of about 3.3 million, just over a third are citizens. Being an oil-rich country, Kuwaiti citizenship comes with a long list of benefits, including free education through college, free healthcare, grocery subsidies, unemployment benefits, and monthly government checks per child.

Also living in Kuwait, though, is a significant Bidoon minority–descendants of nomadic Arab tribes that for some reason or another didn’t apply for, or didn’t qualify for Kuwaiti citizenship after independence from Britain in 1961.

NFL teams are struggling drafting players used to playing spread offenses

TR:

The first and most pressing part of the NFL’s ability to grapple with spread athletes, then, is figuring out exactly who can play in the pros. This was always tough, but it’s now even harder because the NFL demands techniques that spread athletes aren’t trained to perform.

In this regard, the Minnesota Vikings face a very modern problem: They’re trying to win now behind historically gifted running back Adrian Peterson, and they need run-blocking offensive linemen to help him. In the spread era, though, those draftees are increasingly tough to find. “When you have a running back like we do, you’re going to run block, and run blocking is basically out of a three-point stance,” said general manager Rick Spielman. “And spread offenses in general are hardly ever in a three-point stance.”

"The Secret Furry Patrons Keeping Indie Artists Afloat"

NYM:

there is still at least one online community that treats artists with respect and pays fair prices for original work — one community that artists can rely on when editors, publishers, and social networks make it more and more difficult to get paid. When it comes to commissioning original works of art, nobody can match the furries.

At an unsteady time to be a professional creative, furry commissions offer stable supplementary income for many artists.

Bryce Harper holding Katie Ledecky's medals while she throws out the first pitch





Monday, August 22, 2016

2016 Hugo Award-winner Binti is really good



$2.99 at Amazon.

"Our mission is to protect the future of our national icon by adopting one sick and injured Koala with every mattress purchase."

KoalaMattress.

"Sir Ian McKellen was offered one million pounds to dress as his Lord Of The Rings character Gandalf and officiate at the wedding of a Facebook billionaire"

"I said, 'I am sorry, Gandalf doesn’t do weddings.'"

Shadows of the Empire Evolution covers



By Duncan Fegredo. Via.

"Hundreds of Americans wash up illegally in Canada after river party"

R:

About 1,500 Americans floating down a river that separates the United States from Canada had to be rescued from the water when strong rains and winds sent them illegally into Canadian territory, the country's coast guard said on Monday.

The Americans were taking part in the annual Port Huron Float Down on Sunday in the St. Clair River, which runs between the U.S. state of Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario.

...

"They were terrified of entering another country without documentation. No one carries their passport or any ID, and a lot were drinking alcohol," Peter Garapick, superintendent of search and rescue for the coast guard, told CBC television.

Ghostbusters Rowan figure available for preorder



At the BBTS.

"Supercell’s latest game, 'Clash Royale,' has delivered declining revenue for four consecutive months"

"The videogame-research firm estimates July 'Clash Royale' revenue at $62 million, less than half of the $133 million the game generated in March"

"Massachusetts to tax ride-hailing apps, give the money to taxis"

"The law says the money will help taxi businesses to adopt 'new technologies and advanced service, safety and operational capabilities' and to support workforce development."

I assume part of the plan if Spider-Man wasn't available for Captain America Civil War:

"Is This An Ad? Beyoncé And Her Super Bowl Airbnb"

BF:

It was a freebie! According to reps for Airbnb, Beyoncé was not paid to post about her stay. However, a source familiar with the situation told BuzzFeed News that her rental fee was comped by Airbnb (the host got paid).

“We’re huge fans of Beyoncé and we’re thrilled to see her Facebook post and hope she was crazy in love with her Airbnb listing,” Airbnb wrote in a statement at the time. This is, you’ll notice, doesn’t indicate whatsoever that Beyoncé wasn’t a paying Airbnb customer — to me, this statement implies the opposite, that she is a paying customer.
The FTC has rules – lots of rules – about how bloggers or social media stars are supposed to disclose if they’re getting paid to post about a product or company. But these are confusing, especially if it’s not a paid ad, but a free gift like a comped hotel room – something that celebs get all the time. The general rule of thumb, though, is that the average person should be able to tell if something is an ad or not.

I consider myself pretty knowledgeable on this kind of stuff, and I couldn’t really tell. Bobby Finger, host of the Who? Weekly celebrity gossip podcast, wrote in Jezebel that he wasn’t sure if it was an ad, either. If someone whose job is writing and podcasting about celebrity gossip can’t tell if this was an ad or not, then how is the average person supposed to know? Especially when Airbnb PR’s statement to the press at the time was so ambiguous.

"China’s Corpse Salvagers Profit From Misfortune"

SO:

Hundreds of people went missing as a result of China’s summer of heavy rains, floods, mudslides, and dike breaches, according to the latest figures, and most of the missing have since been found dead. Around the country, opportunistic scavengers make money when they find these lost bodies.

According to an article in newspaper Chinese Business View, a man known only by his surname Wang was asked to pay 100,000 yuan ($15,000) to a corpse salvager who had found the body of his sister.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

"Leonardo DiCaprio, the Malaysian Money Scandal and His 'Unusual' Foundation"

THR:

On the evening of July 20, under a tent at a vineyard in St. Tropez brimming to his specifications with booze, billionaires and babes, Leonardo DiCaprio was preparing to host one of the glitziest charitable events of the year: the third annual fundraiser for his Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Earlier that same day, under far less glamorous auspices half a world away, the U.S. Department of Justice was filing a complaint with the U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles that suggested the recent Oscar winner is a bit player in the planet's largest embezzlement case, totaling more than $3 billion siphoned from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund called 1MDB.

...

much like the gala in St. Tropez, with its expressions of one-percenter excess ostensibly in support of saving the environment (guests helicoptering in to dine on whole sea bass after watching a short film about the dangers of overfishing),

...

Multiple attendees who spoke to THR describe the annual LDF galas as freewheeling bacchanals in which wives feel outnumbered by suspiciously predisposed Slavic women in bustiers and couples openly cavort in the bathroom stalls.

The Sisters



"This 81-year-old got fired from Disney — and refuses to stop working"

WBA:

Before he knew it, he was 65. Human Resources told him it was time to retire.

Instead, he came back — as a contractor. When his contract ended, he pulled a George Costanza and went rogue, hijacking an empty desk.

Blood-spattered Red Sonja Funko Pop available for preorder

At the BBTS.

"Meet the worst ants in the world"

AT:

As my neighbors watered the plants in our backyard, I watched ants boiling out of cracks in the brick patio, racing to escape the onrushing tides. Looking more closely, I discovered they were carrying tiny white bundles in their mandibles. I recognized eggs and larvae. The ants were rescuing their brood from a flood apocalypse caused by oblivious humans.

Later, when surveilling a trail of ants marching across my kitchen counter, I spotted one that was enormous—twice as big as a typical worker, with an elongated, bullet-shaped abdomen. I was watching a queen ant marching through my kitchen. The experience gave me chills; there was something genuinely awe-inspiring about seeing a queen in person. I had never heard of ant queens wandering around in the open. I guess I thought they were egg-laying machines, like the Queen in Aliens, and never left the deepest confines of the ant nest.

...

But spring isn't just about expansion. For Argentine ants, it's also time for their annual sacrifice. Hidden from human eyes, in shallow tunnels beneath tree trunks and underground, the worker ants kill 90 percent of their queens. By one estimate, the queens go from 30 percent of the population to less than five percent. It's hard to say why the workers would do this at the beginning of their mating season; Tsutsui called it "mysterious and bizarre behavior." So far, scientists have not been able to figure out whether this annual sacrifice changes the genetic makeup of the colony. It seems that the queens are killed with little regard for age, fitness, or genetic relatedness to the rest of their sisters.

After the queens have been executed, mating season begins.

"putting 'Ben-Hur' in the ranks of the summer’s biggest flops"

V:

Ben-Hur’s” backers aggressively courted the Christian community, doing outreach to pastors and holding taste-maker screenings for religious leaders. The studios also hoped that producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, who earned devout points with “Son of God” and the miniseries “The Bible,” would help them turn out audiences.

"A federal judge on Friday referred Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his second-in-command for criminal prosecution"

NYT:

Sheriff Arpaio and Mr. Sheridan had also made numerous false statements under oath, Judge Snow wrote, and “there is also probable cause to believe that many if not all of the statements were made in an attempt to obstruct any inquiry into their further wrongdoing or negligence.”

The referral does not mean the sheriff will face criminal charges; it is up to federal prosecutors to decide whether to pursue the case.

Friday, August 19, 2016

"Bay Area transit system to subsidize Uber, Lyft rides"

SV:

Passengers ordering Uber or Lyft car trips within two test areas of Dublin [California] will be eligible to get door-to-destination service at a big discount under a partnership between the ride-hailing companies and the Wheels public bus system in Dublin, Alameda and Pleasanton.

The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority, which operates Wheels, said the one-year pilot project could help pave the way for changes in how public transit agencies in the United States serve suburban areas hampered by far-flung bus routes, few riders and little money from fares.

JCVD's Amazon pilot is streaming



He plays a former superspy who decides he's bored in retirement.

I don't think I have enough room in my home to exercise with the Quad Mace





$150. Via.

Von Miller dances up a storm in the new Madden commercial





Madden Mobile is very addictive, btw.

"These Are The Tiniest Condos You Can Buy In L.A. Right Now"

The "top 10 consists mostly of condos that are under 500 square feet, but still over $200,000. Let's take a look, shall we?"

Revoltech 1966 Batmobile available for preroder



At the BBTS.

"Only feathers from the left wings of geese are used in the [Badminton] tournament shuttles"

NYT:

Fans in the stands and viewers watching on television have no way of telling, but Yonex included four grades of shuttles, from slow to fast, that are deployed based on the conditions at the badminton venue

...

To figure out which shuttle to use each day in Rio, a tournament referee and a representative from Yonex go to center court before the first match. On a recent morning, as a sprinkling of athletes and fans filed in to the building, Boris Reichel, who works for Yonex, took three No. 2 shuttles and three No. 3 shuttles and went to the service line.

He hit them with a gentle arc to the singles service line on the other side. The shuttles landed a few inches short. He then went to the other side and hit them back again. This time, they all landed closer to the line. Reichel figured that the shuttles had flown farther in that direction because of a draft coming from the doors that were opening on that side of the building.

"Reeling From Effects of Climate Change, Alaskan Village Votes to Relocate"

NYT:

Residents of a small Alaskan village voted this week to relocate their entire community from a barrier island that has been steadily disappearing because of erosion and flooding attributed to climate change.

In the unofficial results of an election on Tuesday in the village, Shishmaref, residents voted 89 to 78 to leave. The plan would move the village, which is 120 miles north of Nome, to one of two sites on the mainland about five miles away, officials said. But the village needs an estimated $180 million from a patchwork of sources to complete the move, according to a 2004 estimate.

Star Wars Black Sabine figure available at Amazon

$19.99 preorder.

"U.N. Admits Role in Cholera Epidemic in Haiti"

NYT:

it represents a significant shift after more than five years of high-level denial of any involvement or responsibility of the United Nations in the outbreak, which has killed at least 10,000 people and sickened hundreds of thousands.

"Chinese parents are less willing to gamble their child's future on the slim chance of Olympic success"

BV:

entering the final weekend, Chinese athletes are far behind their pace for gold in the last two Olympics -- and in real danger of coming in third in the standings behind Great Britain.

...

At one level, the system worked handsomely, culminating in China's record haul of gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But even at its zenith, the central factor that made that success possible -- a large pool of parents desperate for better opportunities for their kids -- was disappearing.

Over the last five years, rural incomes have grown faster than urban incomes, while China's falling birthrates -- and greater economic opportunities -- mean that Chinese parents are less willing to gamble their child's future on the slim chance of Olympic success. The impact on China's sports schools has been debilitating. As of May, there were 2,183 sports schools in China, producing 95 percent of Olympians. While that might sound like a lot, in 1990 there were 3,687 such schools. In just one sport -- table tennis -- enrollment has declined 75 percent since 1987.

"The team is called the super-recognizers, and each member has taken a battery of tests, administered by scientists, to establish this uncanny credentia"

NY:

Three times a week, the Met issues an online bulletin, “Caught on Camera,” featuring video stills of unidentified suspects committing crimes. Many officers ignore it, but Porritt found the activity of picking out faces quietly absorbing, like doing a crossword puzzle. He soon became known for his prowess at making identifications—“idents,” in the Scotland Yard vernacular—and last year he was asked to join the super-recognizers.

...

By some estimates, as many as a million CCTV cameras are installed in London, making it the most surveilled metropolis on the planet.

...

When a super-recognizer makes an ident, she must submit it for “peer review,” in which a second super-recognizer—usually Eliot Porritt—renders an independent judgment.

New tees at Last Exit to Nowhere

Inspired by An American Werewolf in London and Tremors.

"China's Empty Oceans"

BV:

On Wednesday, Indonesia celebrated its Independence Day with a bang -- blowing up several Chinese boats that had been caught fishing illegally in its waters and impounded. China doesn't dispute Indonesia's territorial claims, but Chinese fishermen have more pressing concerns. According to reports in Chinese state media this week, overfishing and pollution have so depleted China's own fishery resources that in some places -- including the East China Sea -- there are virtually "no fish" left.

Hong Kong Objects to Poster for The Arrival

NYT:

it was another alien object in the poster that captured the most attention: an iconic Shanghai building sticking out from what is supposed to be the north side of Hong Kong Island. In the hours after the poster went up on the film’s promotional Facebook page on Tuesday, hundreds took to the comment section to protest the film with the hashtag #hongkongisnotchina.

...

By Friday afternoon, the poster had been removed from the page. And statements posted on the film’s official Twitter and Facebook pages blamed a “third-party vendor” for making an error in the poster. A new poster was put up featuring the same Shanghai Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower, this time in its rightful city

"US Swimmer Agrees To Make $11,000 Donation To Charity In Order To Leave Brazil"

"Once Feigen has donated 35,000 Reals ($10,800) to Braziian charity Instituto Reacao (Reaction Institute), he will have his seized passport returned and be free to leave the country, Costa said."

"CERN Scientists Under Investigation After Fake Human Sacrifice"



PM:

A CERN spokesperson has told Agence France-Presse that the video is only a prank and that nobody actually died.

Still, she says, "These scenes were filmed on our premises without official permission or knowledge" and "CERN does not condone this type of spoof." An investigation is underway.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

"the Mylan pharmaceutical company has jacked up the prices for an EpiPen — the portable device that can stop a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction — from around $100 in 2008 to $500 and up today"

NBC:

Following a recall by Mylan's chief competitor last year, the company now enjoys a near monopoly.

...

And because they have a stated expiration date of one year, parents refill them annually, incurring an additional co-pay each time.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

"Chinese airlines need to hire almost 100 pilots a week for the next 20 years to meet skyrocketing travel demand"

BW:

Facing a shortage of candidates at home, carriers are dangling lucrative pay packages at foreigners with cockpit experience.

Giacomo Palombo, a former United Airlines pilot, said he’s being bombarded every week with offers to fly Airbus A320s in China. Regional carrier Qingdao Airlines promises as much as $318,000 a year. Sichuan Airlines, which flies to Canada and Australia, is pitching $302,000. Both airlines say they’ll also cover his income tax bill in China.

Gwenpool custom action figure



By MM Customs.

Gwenpool joins Marvel Future Fight



ThreeA's Black Widow



Available for preorder at the end of the month.

"In CRISPR Fight, Co-Inventor Says Broad Institute Misled Patent Office"

TR:

A junior scientist formerly employed by the Broad Institute says the storied MIT-Harvard institution’s claim to have invented CRISPR gene editing isn’t accurate, and that the organization misled the patent office.

The former graduate student, Shuailiang Lin, made his accusations in an e-mail sent to Jennifer Doudna, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who is Broad’s chief rival for scientific and commercial credit to CRISPR.

In the e-mail, sent on February 28, 2015, Lin called the Broad’s claims “a joke” and “unfair to me and [to] science history.”

...

The e-mail was sent as part of a job request to Doudna. In it, Lin, who is from China, seemed ready to barter inside information and assistance with the patent case in exchange for a job. “I am willing to give more details and records if you are interested or whoever is interested to clear the truth,” he said.

Lin says that in early 2011 he was the only lab member working on CRISPR and that the lab was not then able to sort out how to make the technique work, something he says he can document with lab notebooks, e-mails, and results that “recorded every step of the lab’s failure process.”

Deus Ex Go is in the appstore

The new light bone KYRIE 2 colorway



Nike.

Aliens 30th Anniversary Ripley Rescuing Newt two-figure pack

By NECA, available for preroder.

10 Cute & Creepy Minutes of Little Nightmares Gameplay



Link.

They did it live action, too:

"Walmart’s Out-of-Control Crime Problem Is Driving Police Crazy"

BB:

It’s not unusual for the department to send a van to transport all the criminals Ross arrests at this Walmart. The call log on the store stretches 126 pages, documenting more than 5,000 trips over the past five years. Last year police were called to the store and three other Tulsa Walmarts just under 2,000 times. By comparison, they were called to the city’s single Target store 44 times.

...

All this is still happening more than a year into a corporate campaign to bring down crime—a campaign Walmart says is succeeding. Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon, who took charge of the giant retailer in February 2014, has made reducing crime a top priority. The company’s new strategy primarily involves shifting employees within stores—moving them from the storeroom and aisles to store exits

...

He can’t believe, he says, that a multibillion-dollar corporation isn’t doing more to stop crime. Instead, he says, it offloads the job to the police at taxpayers’ expense. “It’s ridiculous—we are talking about the biggest retailer in the world,” says Rohloff. “I may have half my squad there for hours.”

...

There’s nothing inevitable about the level of crime at Walmart. It’s the direct, if unintended, result of corporate policy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

"The Herschel backpack: how Generation Y carries capitalism's mythologies"

From last summer, but new to me:

Was a law passed recently that mandated every person under 30 own one of those blue and brown Herschel backpacks? How else can we explain how ubiquitous they are? Step onto a university campus and 90% of the students will be wearing one, seemingly in defiance of the laws of supply and demand.

The Herschel trend is fascinating. In 2014 the Guardian’s Paula Cocozza went digging for the source of the bags’ popularity. Brothers Lyndon and Jamie Cormack, both apparel industry veterans, founded the company in 2009 because they “did not feel there was a very compelling story being told about bags”.

They named the company after Herschel, a tiny town in Saskatchewan where their great-grandparents settled after emigrating from Scotland in 1906.

...

In other words, the Herschel backpack is a bag for the rugged individual.

Posters for The Arrival



Via.

"NSA and the No Good, Very Bad Monday"

LB:

a group is hosting an auction for code from the “Equation Group,” which is more commonly known as the NSA. The auctioneer’s pitch is simple, brutal, and to the point:

How much you pay for enemies cyber weapons? Not malware you find in networks. Both sides, RAT + LP, full state sponsor tool set? We find cyber weapons made by creators of stuxnet, duqu, flame. Kaspersky calls Equation Group. We follow Equation Group traffic. We find Equation Group source range. We hack Equation Group. We find many many Equation Group cyber weapons. You see pictures. We give you some Equation Group files free, you see. This is good proof no? You enjoy!!! You break many things. You find many intrusions. You write many words. But not all, we are auction the best files.
This released included two encrypted files, and the password to one was provided as proof while the other remains encrypted. The attackers claim that they will provide the password to the second file to the winner of a Bitcoin auction.

The public auction part is nonsense. Despite prevailing misconceptions on cryptocurrency, Bitcoin’s innate traceability means that no one could really expect to launder even $1M out of a high profile Bitcoin wallet like this one without risking detection, let alone the $500M being requested for a full public release. The auction is the equivalent of a criminal asking to be paid in new, marked, sequential bills. Because the actors here are certainly not amateurs, the auction is presumably a bit of "Doctor Evil" theater—the only bids will be $20 investments from Twitter jokesters.
TC:
The fact that any of this was found is a black eye for the NSA. While Snowden rightly notes that the agency is not made of magic, leaving an entire staging server up, even in the benighted summer of 2013, is a foolish and reckless move. Now that these files are public state actors can easily pin a certain type of attack on the NSA. “This leak is likely a warning that someone can prove US responsibility for any attacks that originated from this malware server,” wrote Snowden. Further, it shows that the NSA is sloppy, something that anyone with a passing knowledge of government IT would understand.

"YouTube Stars Are Now Being Used for North Korean Propaganda"

VF:

Louis Cole is a 33-year-old vlogger from the U.K. with about 1.8 million subscribers on his FunForLouis YouTube channel. He’s a highly competent travel vlogger, part of a subset of daily YouTubers

...

Which brings me to his travels in North Korea, a series of videos that he’s currently uploading. Cole and a bunch of other vloggers recently went on a trip through the reclusive, politically repressive nation, beaming back positive depictions of people and places that all seem . . . awfully tidy, judging from what we know—or, to be fair, what politicians and journalists tell us—about North Korea. It all seems highly suspicious

"Angela Aulani Ka’aihue, who's running for Congress against incumbent U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, has posted several signs declaring that she's 'healthy and cancer free'"

From July:

Kaaihue acknowledges the controversial nature of the signs, but continues to point to her health as a reason to vote for her.

“If you have cancer, it's almost like having AIDS, you don't want people to know," she said.

"Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Is Convicted on All Counts"

NYT:

She was a rising Democratic star. She was the first in her party to be elected state attorney general.

...

Ms. Kane was caught up in a web of scandal and counterscandal, threaded with lewd emails, political rivalries and alleged leaks. It has cost other state officials, including two State Supreme Court justices, their jobs and Ms. Kane her law license, although she has remained on the job as attorney general.

"the administration’s $1 billion deal to detain Central American asylum seekers"

WaPo:

As Central Americans surged across the U.S. border two years ago, the Obama administration skipped the standard public bidding process and agreed to a deal that offered generous terms to Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest prison company, to build a massive detention facility for women and children seeking asylum.

The four-year, $1 billion contract — details of which have not been previously disclosed — has been a boon for CCA, which, in an unusual arrangement, gets the money regardless of how many people are detained at the facility. Critics say the government’s policy has been expensive but ineffective.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Funko Pint Size Heroes



Spider-Man, DC, and Steven Universe figures--$5 for one, and also available by the case.