Monday, October 31, 2016

Stranger Things toys available for preorder

Barb, Demogorgon, Eleven with Eggos etc.

Instagram roundup



Photo by Corey Arnold @arni_coraldo Happy Halloween! Last winter, Wes @grizkid and I crawled into this absurdly deep and claustrophobic black bear den together near @brycecanyonnps The goal was to poke this 300+ pound bear with a tranquilizer dart attached to a 6 foot pole before it fully awoke from its groggy hibernation and change the batteries in its radio tracking collar. We were 70 feet deep into this narrow tunnel facing a bear that didn't immediately take to the tranquilizer and began crawling towards us as we scrambled backwards. Two more doses later, this bear basically sleep-walked out of the den and fell asleep against a tree nearby. After the swap, the bear was quickly placed back into the den to resume his winter hibernation. The tracking device confirmed that this bear recovered safely and was not harmed during our encounter. Wes is a masters student at BYU and his thesis research deals with how black bears are adjusting to the growing amount of human presence in the Bryce Canyon area, and how we can best condition bears to avoid campgrounds and other anthropomorphic features that might cause them to get into trouble. This kind of research is important in an areas like Bryce that see a lot of tourism as it benefits both bears and humans. He is one of the dozens of millennials I photographed who shared with me their experience of America's National Parks over the past year for @natgeo Click on the link in my personal profile @arni_coraldo to read the full cover story in Nat Geo Magazine: Can the Selfie Generation Unplug and Get Into Parks? #wildernextgen #blackbear #natgeo #nationalparks #findyourpark #npmillennials #brycecanyon #wildlife #humananimals #photooftheday #instagood #wild #nature #picoftheday #science #adventure #halloween #bear #scary #fear #utah
A photo posted by National Geographic (@natgeo) on




A video posted by Dan Willett (@unboxindustries) on

3D-printed "Alfred Hitchcrow" available for preorder



Available here.

"Creative Intelligence has yielded surprising results — purple images are most likely to get a click, for instance"

From "Refreshing The Verge: how does this thing make money, anyway?"

we create and publish our stories on a platform called Chorus

...

Vox Media has another equally powerful platform on the revenue side: Hymnal

...

research, which shows ads like Vox Media’s scrolling Athena unit are more respectful of users and perform better

...

And those units optimize themselves as users interact with them — a system called Creative Intelligence measures interactions and dynamically swaps in different elements like background colors, photos, and language to make the ads more effective.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage character posters



From a series of 12.

T-Rex cheerleader at the Broncos game

A video posted by @shannihan on

Beetlejuice group cosplay

From the Atlantic's Halloween photo gallery.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

"Vatican, China Consider Deal on Selection of Bishops After Decades of Division"

WSJ:

If Pope Francis and Chinese leaders sign off on the proposed deal, the pope would accept eight bishops ordained by the Chinese government without the Vatican’s permission.

...

It would be a diplomatic breakthrough for the pope, who has eagerly pursued an opening to China that eluded his predecessors, though re-establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican—which Beijing severed in 1951—would remain a distant goal.

Vatican officials, however, are bracing for strong protests from Chinese Catholics in the so-called underground church, some of whose members have suffered imprisonment or other punishment for defying government control of the church, and who could regard the agreement as a lopsided win for Beijing and hence a betrayal of their fidelity.

The deal would defer many thorny issues, including the legal status of underground Chinese bishops loyal to Rome, who currently operate without government approval.

Suspicious political donations linked to approval of a $72-million apartment project in Los Angeles

LATimes:

Blanco is among more than 100 campaign contributors with a direct or indirect connection to Samuel Leung, a Torrance-based developer who was lobbying public officials to approve a 352-unit apartment complex, a Times investigation has found.

Those donors gave more than $600,000 to support Hahn, Mayor Eric Garcetti and other L.A.-area politicians between 2008 and 2015, as Leung was seeking city approval for the $72-million development in L.A.’s Harbor Gateway neighborhood, north of the Port of Los Angeles, The Times found.

...

At one critical point, Garcetti invoked a mayoral prerogative — which he has used only twice — to reduce the number of council votes required to approve the project. In several cases, elected officials received the money as they were poised to make key decisions about the development, known as Sea Breeze.

Many of the contributions were reported on the same day, in the same amounts, for the same politician, contribution records show. They came from the handymen who fixed Leung’s buildings; the landscaper who tended his gardens; the chef who prepared meals in a hotel run by his company.

...

Among the donors contacted by The Times, 11 denied making contributions or said they didn’t remember giving. Several others were unable to provide basic details about their donations, such as why they gave, to whom and how many times.

Kubo Sisters cosplay

A photo posted by Nooree Kim (@_nooreekim_) on

Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel is $1.99 today

At Amazon.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

"Authorities Encourage Residents to Hunt Wild Pigs That Destroyed Landscaping at Riverside Park"

KTLA:

Large packs of boars emerge late at night

...

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife considers their presence a hazard and nuisance, and is encouraging people to hunt the hogs with a bow and arrow

"A makeshift armored military front loader drives in Dahiyat al-Assad, west Aleppo city, Syria"

From the photos of the week. This one, too.

Harry Potter, Alien: Isolation, and Jurassic Park fanmade props



By James Pocklington.

Kashira from Spirited Away cosplay

A photo posted by Sam Bosma (@blobsma) on

Halloween at Laika







"Of Course Westworld’s Costumes Are 3D-Printed, Too"

Long interview at Racked:

for anyone who has a speaking role — the principals and the guest stars — we have to hand-make everything

...

We actually had to dye every single piece, too.

...

we were using actual period fabrics to make these clothes, and there’s only so much of it! So we had to find ways to recreate it. You know, fabrics today just aren’t as intricate — they’re not made the same way. With the exception of some places in Italy or maybe England, you honestly can’t find beautiful, intricate fabrics anymore. It’s really sad! So we had to hire 3D printers in Los Angeles to reprint all our vintage fabrics so we could have more

...

Let’s talk about Ed Harris’s character, The Man in Black. He’s a fan favorite, and his outfit is particularly amazing.

There’s a very old-school hippie weaver in upstate New York, near Woodstock, who wove the fabric for his jacket. We had another artisan hand-paint it afterwards.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Horror-themed items from my wishlist that have gone on sale

A Head Full of Ghosts: A Novel is $1.99 ("Winner of the 2015 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel")

The Forgetting Time: A Novel is $2.99 ("An Amazon Best Book of February 2016")

My Best Friend's Exorcism: A Novel is $3.99 ("This ENHANCED DIGITAL EDITION features TONS of TOTALLY AWESOME 80s bonus materials")

Arkham Horror: The Card Game is 33% off (""A living card game of Eldritch mystery or one to two players")

"Trump is listed as the 1999 club champion, but the course didn't have its official grand opening until Jan. 8, 2000"

"Trump claims to have won 18 golf club championships."

"How One Man’s Bad Math Helped Ruin Decades Of English Soccer"

538:

There was no Opta back in 1950, no Total Shots Ratio, no Expected Goals. But there was Reep, who took it upon himself to attend every Swindon Town F.C. match that season — sometimes with a miner’s helmet on his head to better illuminate his notes — and meticulously scribble down play-by-play diagrams of how everything went down. More than 60 years before player-tracking cameras became all the rage in pro sports, Reep was mapping out primitive spatial data the old-fashioned way, by hand.

"The Best Two-Sentence Horror Stories Of All Time"

At Clickhole:

Trembling, you pull back the shower curtain. No, it can’t be: another shower curtain.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

New Dredd and Gremlins goods at Last Exit to Nowhere

Dredd mug and Mogwai Curio Shop tee.

For Dark Tower fans, the Charlie the Choo-Choo illustrated book is available at Amazon

"Engineer Bob has a secret: His train engine, Charlie the Choo-Choo, is alive…and also his best friend. From celebrated author Beryl Evans and illustrator Ned Dameron comes a story about friendship, loyalty, and hard work." Available in hardcover or digital.

New covers for Neuromancer series



By Daniel Brown.

MUSCLE-like One-Punch Man figures available for preorder

Individually, or by the box.

"The Bug That Stalks Spiders on Their Own Webs"

Atlantic:

More surprisingly, the bugs can also break the web strands with impunity. If a thread stands between them and their spider prey, they’ll simply grab it with their front legs and pull it apart. It’s a risky move. The threads of a web are held in tension, like taut rubber bands. If you cut them, the two ends ought to spring back, creating vibrations that would give away an interloper’s presence. And yet, astonishingly, the spiders don’t notice. The bug can even break threads that are right next to a spider without drawing attention to itself.

Soley noticed that when a bug snaps the threads, it holds on to the disconnected ends and lets them to sag toward their points of origin before releasing them. It does so one at a time, and often separated by long delays. All of this allows the bug to vandalize the web without creating vibrations, or at least, none that are distinguishable from background noise and wind. In fact, Soley also found that the bugs are more likely to break threads in breezy conditions. It’s an assassin that camouflages itself with wind.

"Ontario police are broadcasting thousands of text messages to phones used close to the site of a murder"

BBC:

The phones have been identified as being in use on 16 December close to the route Mr Hatch travelled on the night he was killed.

About 7,500 people are expected to receive the messages asking them to contact police.

"A former elite gymnast filed a lawsuit Thursday against USA Gymnastics and some of its top officials"

IS:

The suit claims USA Gymnastics and the Karolyis, who are one of the most successful coaching teams in gymnastics history, concealed sexual and physical abuses at their elite training facility in Texas to protect their reputations and businesses.

The unnamed plaintiff was a member of the U.S. Women's National Team from 2006 to 2011 and was a world team member in 2010. She said she was sexually abused by former team physician Dr. Larry Nassar over several years.

"man holding a ‘Blacks For Trump’ sign right behind Trump was once part of an extremist murder cult"

Fusion:

part of the Miami-based Yahweh ben Yahweh cult, a group of black extremists who pledged themselves to the cause of killing white people. He was one of more than a dozen people who were all indicted on multiple charges of extortion, arson, and 14 murders.

...

Though Symonette’s own brother testified that he had brutally beaten one of the murder victims and stabbed another man in the eyeball, a jury eventually found him innocent, let him walk free, and gave him the opportunity to transform himself into a local radio owner and popular popular YouTuber

"The Pentagon’s new unmanned submarine chaser is currently undergoing at-sea testing"

"Sea Hunter for short, is built to track enemy submarines over thousands of miles of ocean for months at a time and without a single crew member on board"

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"House Republicans are already preparing for ‘years’ of investigations of Clinton"

Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years worth of material already lined up.”

I enjoyed Karen Lord's The Best of All Possible Worlds

Two repressed academics slowly (excruciatingly, delightfully slowly) admit their love for each other while having pulpy scifi adventures on a journey around the world. Loosely inspired by the effects on communities that lost a large percentage of women due to the 2004 tsunami.

Available at Amazon (also the first time I've noticed a used book being sold with free shipping).

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

"Opponents of Beverly Hilton project allege voter fraud"

"The allegations . . . were made by a lawyer for Beverly Hills Residents and Businesses to Preserve Our City, a committee sponsored by a competing developer, Chinese entertainment and real estate giant Wanda Group."

Is James Coburn a host in these old beer commercials?









Via.

“Give us this day our daily seal”

Greenland's largest town:

Nuuk sits on the southwest coast. It was founded in the early eighteenth century by a Danish-Norwegian missionary named Hans Egede, and for most of its existence was known as Godth√•b. When Egede arrived, he discovered that the native people had neither bread nor a word for it, so he translated the line from the Lord’s Prayer as “Give us this day our daily seal.” Today, a giant statue of Egede presides over Nuuk much the way Christ the Redeemer presides over Rio.

The "Bear Scare" at Baylor

Texas Monthly:

We saw a path where women jogging on campus are sometimes surprised from behind by male runners who roar in their ears. This, I learned, is called the Bear Scare. (Baylor’s mascot is a bear.)

New Funko X-Men figures

Mohawked Storm, Archangel, Psylocke etc etc.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Neill Blomkamp-directed short film for BMW

"San Francisco's 58-story Millennium Tower is upscale, but literally sinking fast"

LAT:

While a paper trail of concern about potential settling leads back to early 2009, even before the Millennium Tower was ready for occupancy, most residents of the building knew nothing about any issue with the foundation until they were summoned in early May to a private meeting in a lounge on the tower’s club level.

Identification was checked at the door. Residents were told that what they were to hear must be kept a secret. A lawyer introduced a structural engineer who delivered, as Buttery and others recall, a simple statement that startled the packed room:

“The Millennium building is too heavy for its foundation.”

Not only had the tower settled by far more than the four to six inches originally forecast for the life of the building but, “most importantly,” recalled Jerry Dodson, a retired patent lawyer and a vocal critic of the tower’s builders, the engineer said “it wasn’t stopping.”

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

"LAUSD teachers earn too much to live in the affordable housing apartments built for them"

LAT:

Two below-market apartment complexes were built on unused district land and a third is under construction. Today, both are fully occupied. But not one L.A. Unified teacher lives in them.

...

The problem for teachers, as district officials learned after they had signed the lease agreements and developers had secured funding, was that even the newest hires earned too much to qualify for the units.

...

Mark Hovatter, the district’s chief facilities executive, said the district knew what the eligibility requirements would be. But at the time, he said, district officials thought it possible that a new teacher with a large family and no other source of income would qualify.

"Facebook is choking off reach in the news feed, so publishers are" paying celebrities to share their articles

"In the past week alone, Takei has shared a dozen Mic stories, and nearly 20 Knowable ones."

The Pro Bull Riding World Championship's most feared bucking bull, Air Time, is owned by former NFL star Jared Allen

SI:

“Eighty percent of how good your bull ends up being has to do with the mother they’re out of,” said Matt Scharping, stock contractor for Allen’s team. “We spend tons of time, money and energy trying to get the female side of the breeding process correct, because a cow that doesn’t work eats as much as a cow that works. You look at a cow’s traits and think about what you can complement them with by envisioning the calf.


...

“Air Time was an accident,” Sharping explained. “A buddy of mine got a heifer calf from some partners of his. The heifer was supposed to be open, meaning not bred. All of the sudden, she gave birth to this little, spotted calf. They had to figure out what happened. It turned out that the heifer hit a heat cycle early and a bull jumped the fence and bred her.”

...

“We don’t practice him, but you see the work that goes into conditioning and feeding him in the shoots,” Allen said. “He had some shoot issues at first, but I liked that. I liked that he was a little unstable. He gets into the minds of the cowboys. There’s something that’s just not quite right about him.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

"there was this age where, below it, you assumed Darth Vader was lying"

From a lengthy interview with Tom Scioli about Transformers vs. GI Joe, Super Powers, and why he dislikes the Fantastic Four:

For Star Wars George Lucas mentioned that he spoke to many child psychologists and that there was this age where, below it, you assumed Darth Vader was lying when he tells Luke that he is his father and above that you believe him and that yes, it is a deeper truth.

"RNC Asks Members to Avoid Poll Watching, Other ‘Ballot Security’ Activities"

WSJ:

As part of a 1982 settlement in a lawsuit brought by Democrats, the RNC agreed to curb its efforts to monitor and challenge voter eligibility at the polls, especially in districts where the racial or ethnic composition of the electorate could be a factor in the outcome.

RNC general counsel John Ryder wrote to members on Wednesday to “remind you of the restrictions placed on the RNC by the consent decree.”

"Apocalyptic dystopia plays directly into that sense of irrelevance, comforting men with the assurance that they will always be useful in a world that needs men to rebuild it"

TB:

Dystopia offers a fantasy of those very aspects of masculinity that feminists supposedly condemn becoming crucial in a scenario in which you must not get torn apart by raiders from the bunker next door. For the alt-right imaginary, that means traditional patriarchy of the sort that only ever existed in febrile myth.

...

The dystopian fantasies that attract many alt-righters are ones in which they finally get to be the hero on terms they recognize—as the rugged frontiersmen battling gamely against a world gone rotten
Relatedly, the horror movie They Look Like People is on Netflix:

“I don’t think the consumer business [for 3D printers] is real, because there’s no use for it”

TC:

All of the moves point toward the perceived way forward for the industry: 3D printing for production, moving past a single-minded focus on prototype to an end use product. For GE, the move means the flexibility to build custom parts like fuel caps, built with the latest metal-based additive manufacturing.
Relatedly, The Democratization of Airpower: The Insurgent and the Drone:
Until recently, the hard part of making EFPs was the precision machining necessary to create the copper cone. Poorly machined cones will not form effective projectiles. This is why the Iraqi insurgents relied on Iranian-provided cones to build their IEDs. However, dramatic improvements in 3D printing mean inexpensive home metal printing is now commercially available. Fused deposition printers, which can print metal, are now available for under $1,000 — or roughly half the cost of a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

...

This pilot has clearly developed the skills to intercept and follow a moving target. He even demonstrates that he can fly the length of a column to evaluate the value of targets and pick a specific one. Lest you think his drone would be fairly easy to engage with small arms, consider the skills drone pilots in France have demonstrated in racing drones through the woods. Amplifying the threat, the pilots do not have to see the drone or the course to successfully execute high speed maneuvers on a forest trail. Any of these pilots could launch from inside an urban area or a covered rural position and fly his drone to the target without ever being visible to anyone. The speed and maneuverability show it will be very hard to hit one of these systems.

...

The low cost of some commercial drones – even autonomous ones — mean they can be expended as rounds of ammunitions. In 2014, a team at the University of Virginia developed a fully autonomous, 3D printed drone.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Transformers vs G.I. Joe: The Quintessential Collection



Preorder for 19% off at Amazon:

Tom Scioli, John Barber (w) • Scioli (a & c)
Earth makes contact with an alien race–and G.I. JOE is on the front lines! But, when the Transformers arrive–well, let’s just say you’ve never seen Transformers vs G.I. JOE like this! This oversized deluxe hardcover collects all 13 issues, including commentary and extras by creators Tom Scioli and John Barber!
TPB • FC • $49.99 • 7” x 11” • 420 pages • ISBN: 978-1-63140-860-1
Bullet points:
What happens if you let Tom Scioli design a massive hardcover collection of his insane, genre-bending, license-smashing, Hasbro-blessed epic? Buy and find out.
Via.

"Netflix has offered hefty raises, sometimes double, over many mid-level employees’ salaries if they join the company"

Bloomberg:

Tara Flynn, a rising star in show development at TV studio Fox 21, walked into her boss’s office in August to announce she was leaving for a job at Netflix Inc.
Her boss said she was under contract, and Flynn replied that she wasn’t asking permission, according to people familiar with the conversation. She had little to lose. Netflix said her contract wasn’t enforceable in California, and promised to cover any legal fees, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information.

Flynn’s departure is just one of the latest examples of Netflix’s aggressive hiring as it builds its own empire.

...

Parent company 21st Century Fox Inc. took its grievances a step further, suing Netflix last month for allegedly encouraging Flynn and a film marketing executives to break their contracts. “Netflix is defiantly flouting the law by soliciting and inducing employees to break their contracts,” the media company said in its statement. “We intend to seek all available remedies to enforce our rights and hold Netflix accountable for its wrongful behavior.” Netflix declined to comment on the suit. Flynn referred questions to Netflix.

While Hollywood relies on fixed-term contracts, they aren’t enforceable, Netflix has said. The company wants to set a precedent that it can take employees from other companies -- if those employees want to leave.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 gifs





Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"No one knows exactly where these two pieces of land are located anymore, but for hundreds of years the city has been paying rent on them"

AO:

Earlier this October, at a ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice, London paid its rent to the Queen. The ceremony proceeded much as it had for the past eight centuries. The city handed over a knife, an axe, six oversized horseshoes, and 61 nails to Barbara Janet Fontaine, the Queen’s Remembrancer, the oldest judicial position in England. The job was created in the 12th century to keep track of all that was owed to the crown.

In this case, the Remembrancer has presided over the rent owed on two pieces of property for a very long time—since 1235 in one case, and at least 1211 in the other. Every year, in this Ceremony of Quit Rents, the crown extracts its price from the city for a forge and a piece of moorland.

January 2017 Marvel covers


Moon Knight #10 cover by Greg Smallwood




Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #4 cover by Javier Rodriguez




Hawkeye #2 cover by Julian Totino Tedesco. Via.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Lost Boys #4 cover



"It looks like it’s up to Sam and the mysterious musical muscleman known as the Believer to save the day."

Ghost Court card game



Kickstarter for a card game featuring illustrations by Richard Sala.

"The ease of applying to dozens of schools with just one click is problematic for students—and universities"

The Atlantic:

The same bias afflicts schools’ increasing reliance on “demonstrated interest”—another tactic colleges use to raise their yield by looking for proactive indications that a student will enroll if accepted. “It used to be that applying was how you demonstrate interest, but it’s just not the case these days,” says Knox, the educational consultant. In fact, some admissions officials say that “demonstrated interest” is now almost as important as an essay or teacher recommendation in determining who gets admitted.

The best way for a student to demonstrate interest is to visit the campus. The problem is that while a college tour might be a rite of passage for middle-class and affluent students, it’s far less feasible for students without the resources or support to visit prospective schools.

In addition to campus visits, colleges are also creating elaborate systems to track and measure students’ interest in other ways. “Colleges now have these sophisticated electronic dashboards so that every interaction with them is logged into the system,” says the NACAC’s Hawkins. “Even something as simple as liking a college on Facebook—that’s a little checkmark in your dashboard. It’s part of a very comprehensive recruitment strategy that colleges are now engaged in because of this uncertainty around yield.”

“We also know every interaction students have had with the university,” says MacLennan, from the University of Colorado Boulder. “Maybe they’ve come in and visited the campus for an information session. Maybe they’ve toured the campus. Maybe they’ve shown up on a high-school visit or brought their parents to one of our hotel programs. We have a record of not only how many times we have contacted them but how many times they’ve contacted us, and that will begin to show the strength of their interest.” These records can begin as early as ninth grade.

Of course, most students have no idea that this is how colleges are judging them. Some do, however, because they have the means to hire private educational consultants who can explain the rules of the current admissions marketplace.

Chibi Destiny figures are coming

"Motola, an elephant that was injured by a landmine, wears her prosthetic leg"

From a particularly good edition of The Atlantic's photo roundups.

Fanmade Westworld poster



From crizto at the the Westworld subreddit.

Also, Dolores's story template:



And Simon Roussin's illustration for an article about the show:



The article includes this factoid, "By 1958, there were twenty-eight Western dramas on the air" and calls Westworld, "a prestige product that satisfies the taboo desires of a niche consumer base"

Kim Stanley Robinson on Elon Musk's Mars plan: "this scenario is not believable, which makes it a hard exercise to think about further"

From an interview at Bloomberg:

There is no Planet B, and it’s very likely that we require the conditions here on earth for our long-term health.

...

My feeling now is that faced with the extreme expense, technical challenge, and danger of going to Mars, interest is going to shift to the moon as a destination that can actually be reached and occupied during some of our lifetimes. Planning for Mars is always very enthusiastic up until the moment of realization that the project’s unavoidable realities means it is going to take decades.

Glow-in-the-dark Chuck Taylor All Star II Moon



The Chuck Taylor All Star II Moon "features a digital moon print and werewolf footbed graphic atop a glow-in-the-dark outsole. It has added comfort through a micro mesh liner and Nike Lunarlon insole."

Trick or treating in in Churchill, Canada, the polar bear capital of the world

Article from 2013:

I’m a Californian. I’ve got a commuter bicycle, a two-litre pump-bottle of sunscreen and a vegetable garden that throws out tomatoes for about seven months a year. The roof of my house has never touched snow. Nonetheless, I decided to move to Churchill in order to research a book on polar bears. My three children – ages six, five and two – went there because they’re my children and they didn’t have a choice. I didn’t want them to be eaten alive, and yet cancelling Halloween outright seemed too cruel.

So I learned the unofficial rules of high-risk trick-or-treating: #1. Go door to door with as many friends as possible. Bears love Snickers bars, but are unlikely to attack large groups of people. #2. Any able-bodied person who owns a gun should take that gun and spend the evening driving around town looking for anything white lurking in alleyways. #3. Children must not dress as ghosts, skeletons, princesses or anything else that might cause them to be mistaken for polar bears

Two books from my wishlist on sale for $1.99 today

Black Swan Green: A Novel by David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) is $1.99 this morning. And so is The Tiger's Wife: A Novel by Téa Obreht.

Books, I've recently completed--The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin is outstanding (I haven't been crazy about her other books).

And Binti: Home is a solid follow-up to Binti, which was terrific and fresh.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Twitter "should be and probably will be bought by an aggressive financial buyer"

BC:

Here is what to notice. Revenue has gone up very nicely - from $664 million to $2.2 billion and is still increasing. And costs have gone up commensurately. Losses seem stubbornly stuck at half a billion per annum. That is real money - just burnt - and burnt by a business that is already established.

In other words costs have gone up by $1.5 billion give or take something. That is billion with a b.

Now if costs were rising that fast and the service were noticeably improving and engagemet growing then you could be tolerant.

...

But - as a pretty dedicated tweeter (with almost 20 thousand followers) - I have noticed almost no changes in twitter that improve my user experience. It is almost impossible to find out what they spend that $1.5 billion extra per annum on
(Your occasional reminder that I'm active on Twitter.)

"A Mega-Drought Is Coming to America’s Southwest"

Atlantic:

Between 1545 and 1548, an epidemic swept through the indigenous people of Mexico that is unlike anything else described in the medical literature. People bled from their face while suffering high fevers, black tongue, vertigo, and severe abdominal pain. Large nodules sometimes appeared behind their ears, which then spread to cover the rest of their face. After several days of hemorrhage, most who had been infected died.

The disease was named cocoliztli, after the Nahautl word for “pest.” By contemporary population estimates, cocoliztli killed 15 million people in the 1540s alone—about 80 percent of the local population. On a demographic basis, it was worse than either the Black Death or the Plague of Justinian. For several centuries, its origin remained a mystery.

Then, about two decades ago, researchers began to compare the known cocoliztli outbreaks with clues etched in the tree rings of modern-day Mexico.

"YouTube buys FameBit, a startup that connects YouTube stars with advertisers"

"Google, YouTube’s parent company, says FameBit will remain a standalone company 'for now,' and that it won’t require YouTube uploaders to use FameBit if they want to work with advertisers within their videos"

TIL the Middleton's are known as "The Wisteria Sisters" for their social-climbing prowess

"Are Humans Creating More Species Than We’re Killing?"

Atlantic:

Humans have been driving evolution for millennia, often intentionally: Over the past 11,000 years, we’ve domesticated more than 700 plants and animals, turning the gray wolf into the toy poodle and the bland, bitter watermelon into a sweet, summertime snack. Among the 95 species that make up the world’s most important crops, at least six are human creations.

But we also shape other species indirectly. Hunting, fishing, and harvesting, for instance, can lead to selection against the very traits that we prize. Consider a naturally occurring genetic variant that gives some red foxes iridescent, silver coats. Furs from these foxes fetched higher prices than the traditional rust-colored pelts, leading economically rational hunters to target the silver canids, removing them from the gene pool at disproportionate rates. In 1830 in Eastern Canada, silver foxes made up 16 percent of the population; a century later, that figure had declined to just 5 percent. Likewise, hunters’ hunger for trophy specimens has led to a decrease in horn size among Canadian bighorn sheep.

We continuously reshuffle the planet’s species

"A new room has been discovered and is open to the public at San Jose's Winchester Mystery House, a Victorian mansion that was home to a widow of the Winchester rifle fortune"

"Winchester boarded up the room after the 1906 earthquake because she was trapped in the room and she thought evil spirits were responsible for the quake." Via.

New Voltron and GI Joe toys available for preorder

Netflix Voltron lions and assembled figure and new Joes, including a female Cobra officer.

Creepy card from "Risky Strategy," a board game created by Roger Ailes



The game's available at ebay and Amazon.

"Bed Bath & Beyond Paid Just $12 Million for One Kings Lane"

Fortune:

One Kings Lane was launched in 2009 by Ali Pincus and Susan Feldman as a Los Angeles-based flash sales site focused on high-end furniture and home decor. It would go on to raise more than $200 million in venture capital funding, from big-name firms like Greylock, Kleiner Perkins, Institutional Venture Partners, and Tiger Global. Its final outside funding round came in early 2014, at a post-money valuation north of $800 million.

Why Doctors Without Borders rejected Pfizer’s donation offer of pneumonia vaccines

Medium:

I recently had the difficult task of telling Ian Read, Pfizer’s CEO, that Doctors Without Borders/ M√©decins Sans Fronti√®res (MSF) is rejecting the company’s offer to donate a significant number of pneumonia vaccine (PCV) doses for the children we serve

...

Donations are often used as a way to make others ‘pay up.’ By giving the pneumonia vaccine away for free, pharmaceutical corporations can use this as justification for why prices remain high for others, including other humanitarian organizations and developing countries that also can’t afford the vaccine. Countries, which continue to voice their frustration at being unable to afford new and costly vaccines such as PCV, need lower prices as well to protect children’s health.

Critically, donation offers can disappear as quickly as they come.

Monday, October 10, 2016

"Exclusive documents show a Wells Fargo employee informed the bank of fake customer accounts in 2006"

Vice:

A Wells Fargo bank manager tried to warn the head of the company’s regional banking unit of an improperly created customer account in January 2006, five years earlier than the bank has said its board first learned of abuses at its branches.

"Louisiana isn’t letting immigrants get married"

WaPo (which I subscribed to today):

So, as of this year, any foreign-born person wanting to get married in Louisiana must produce both an unexpired visa (even though a federal court has ruled that marriage licenses cannot be denied based on immigration status), as well as, somewhat inexplicably, a birth certificate.

No birth certificate, no marriage, no excuses.

The law has indeed placed marriage off-limits to immigrants in the country illegally, as intended. But it’s hurt plenty of legal immigrants, too. Louisiana is home to thousands of refugees, predominantly Vietnamese and Laotians who received asylum in the 1970s and 1980s after fleeing war and communism in their homelands.

Today these Louisianans often have green cards and even U.S. citizenship, but no access to their original birth documents, if such documents even exist.

"Dozens of suspicious court cases, with missing defendants, aim at getting web pages taken down or deindexed"

WaPo:

There are about 25 court cases throughout the country that have a suspicious profile:

All involve allegedly self-represented plaintiffs, yet they have similar snippets of legalese that suggest a common organization behind them. (A few others, having a slightly different profile, involve actual lawyers.)

All the ostensible defendants ostensibly agreed to injunctions being issued against them, which often leads to a very quick court order (in some cases, less than a week).

Of these 25-odd cases, 15 give the addresses of the defendants — but a private investigator (Giles Miller of Lynx Insights & Investigations) couldn’t find a single one of the ostensible defendants at the ostensible address.

Now, you might ask, what’s the point of suing a fake defendant (to the extent that some of these defendants are indeed fake)? How can anyone get any real money from a fake defendant? How can anyone order a fake defendant to obey a real injunction?

Ikea's drawing competition: "Enter now for a chance to turn your child’s drawing into a real soft toy!"



Details.

Westworld maps

Simogo level design

A photo posted by Simogo (@simogogames) on

"USA Track and Field CEO has alarmed some insiders with his spending and style"

WaPo:

Under Siegel’s watch, USA Track and Field has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of business to an Indianapolis marketing firm that once advertised itself as “a Max Siegel company.” It is owned by two women whose companies continue to do business with Max Siegel Inc., his personal sports-marketing company.

...

USA Track and Field’s board of directors, which this year is paying Siegel $1.7 million in salary and bonuses, a compensation package seven times the average for the CEO of a nonprofit with a similar budget.

"Jungle Gyms (Playgrounds) Real Life Level Design"

"One of the reasons levels grow is because of either to increase the difficulty, progress the story or the player gains new abilities/mechanics. Which is the same with kids and jungle gyms. Think about it when kids first start playing on slides they are only a couple steps high, with one route to the slide."

Sunday, October 9, 2016

"On September 21, if you happened to be passing by New York's iconic Times Square, you could not help but learn that it was the birthday of Chinese teenager Wang Junkai"

GT:

On September 21, if you happened to be passing by New York's iconic Times Square, you could not help but learn that it was the birthday of Chinese teenager Wang Junkai, as more than 10 huge screens celebrated him getting one year older.

Wang Junkai, a member of boy band TFBoys, has over 18 million mostly female followers on Sina Weibo.

...

Based on the goal of "letting the world know Wang Junkai's birthday," Wang's fans prepared a series of celebrations of various kinds.

Xie Mei sent a list to the Global Times detailing some of the celebratory events including but not limited to 11 LED screens playing videos of Wang in Times Square, six in Tokyo, 32 along expressways in Paris, 533 televisions along the subway in Taipei, 42 digital billboards in Changsha airport, a light show in the Olympic Water Cube in Beijing and many billboards in cities like Seoul, Melbourne and Reykjavik.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Friday, October 7, 2016

New Salem's Lot tee at Last Exit to Nowhere

So, it's sort of a Dark Tower t-shirt, also.

"The mystery of the albino redwood"

SFG:

For the trees' own protection, staff at the park typically don't tell visitors how to find them.

...


Kuty is the unofficial caretaker of Henry Cowell's 11 albinos; he alone knows where each one hides. Some look like haphazardly spray-painted bushes, while others resemble the artificial white trees sold around Christmas. Still others are little more than single, luminous branches high up in the canopy, barely discernible in the shifting morning sun.

...

Redwoods can also clone themselves, further complicating scientists' understanding of them. Vast rings of related plants communicate via their roots, and during the hard months of winter and early spring, they'll distribute nutrients evenly among themselves. Scientists have spilled dye onto trees at one end of a grove and traced it through the root network all the way to the other side.

...

This collaboration lasts only until summer comes. Then every tree, sprout and branch must fend for itself. Those that can't photosynthesize enough sugar are cut off from the shared root system and discarded during what's known as the autumn "needle drop."

...

"It seems like the albino trees are just sucking these heavy metals up out of the soil," Moore said. "They're basically poisoning themselves."

"EpiPen Maker Mylan Will Pay $465 Million to Settle Medicaid Overcharging Case"

"The federal government said this week that Mylan had been told multiple times that it was improperly classifying the EpiPen, which led the Medicaid and Medicare programs to overpay for the product"

"How Hollywood Whitewashed the Old West"

TAtl:

by the late 19th century roughly one in three cowboys (known as vaqueros) was Mexican. The recognizable cowboy fashions, technologies, and lexicon—hats, bandanas, spurs, stirrups, lariat, lasso—are all Latino inventions.

...

The story of one of America’s most eminent frontiersmen, Jim Beckwourth, formed the basis for 1951’s Tomahawk, which starred a white actor even though Beckwourth was black. The famous 1956 Western epic The Searchers was based on a black man named Britt Johnson. He was played by John Wayne, one of the genre’s biggest movie stars, who in 1971 told Playboy, “I believe in white supremacy until blacks are educated to the point of responsibility.” Even the fictional character of the Lone Ranger (who originally debuted in a radio show in 1933) shares striking similarities to Bass Reeves, believed to be the first black U.S. Deputy Marshal west of the Mississippi.

By the time Westerns gained wider prominence with movie audiences in the 1950s, the ubiquity of the genre’s all-white protagonists had helped fully obscure the reality of race on the American frontier. Crucial to this effort were directors like Cecil B. DeMille (The Squaw Man, Rose of the Rancho, The Trail of Lonesome Pine, The Buccaneers) and John Ford (My Darling Clementine, Fort Apache, The Searchers). Non-white characters were usually antagonists with names like “Mexican Henchman” or “Facetious Redskin.”

"Prisoners Texted Guards for Drugs and Paid Them With PayPal"

TDB:

When inmates at Maryland’s Eastern Correctional Institution wanted contraband, all they had to do was text. Anything they wanted—drugs, porn, cigarettes—was just a corrupt correctional officer away.

A three-year investigation by the FBI and Maryland’s U.S. Attorney revealed a sweeping Wednesday indictment against 80 correctional officers, inmates, and accomplices allegedly involved in massive smuggling ring in the state’s largest prison. Correctional officers kept many exchanges cash-free, handing out cell phones and asking inmates to purchase contraband using PayPal, the indictment reported.

"Ghana Will Remove ‘Racist’ Gandhi Statue From Its Oldest University"

Time:

The statue, which was unveiled by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee during his visit to Ghana in June, was meant to symbolize friendship between the two countries

...

The petition, which had more than 1,700 supporters on Thursday, cited letters Gandhi wrote during his time in South Africa as evidence that he advocated for the superiority of Indians over black Africans.

"Why Pierce Brosnan is causing a 'spit storm' in India"

"Former Bond star Pierce Brosnan has left Indians both shaken and stirred after his appearance in an advertisement endorsing a product that many associate with a highly addictive and dangerous form of chewing tobacco"

"Snapchat is pushing its publisher content almost out of sight"

Rec:

The new design creates an obvious group of losers: Snapchat’s Discover publishing partners, who used to occupy the top of that page and will now have their channels listed below all of your friends’ stories. Depending on how many friends you have on the app, that could mean lots of scrolling before you come across Discover content.

...

Moving publisher content down seems to be a clear message that Snapchat sees more value in user Stories than what its publishing partners are creating.
Relatedly, from The Verge:
And here’s the trend: almost all of our growth is in video, particularly Facebook video. In particular, look at those Circuit Breaker numbers — most of the content posted to the Circuit Breaker Facebook page never makes it to The Verge’s website

...

The other thing to notice is that our raw article page views are basically flat, but that Facebook Instant Articles and Google AMP pages have slowly started to become a bigger piece of the page view mix.

Excellent new cinematic trailer for The Old Republic (so your daughter is showing Sith tendencies...)



1/12 Scale TOA Heavy Industries Synthetic Human figure (from Biomega) available for preorder

If this sells well ($85), maybe they'll issue 1/12 scale versions of the Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow figures, too.

(Biomega is very good, btw.)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Recent Marvel comics are on sale, too

These are all 99 cents an issue:

Black Panther

Black Widow

International Iron Man

Gwenpool

Some really great Image comics are on sale right now

These collections are all terrific and are currently $4.99 for kindle/comixology cross purchase (individual issues are 99 cents, too):

Southern Cross

Black Magick

The Injection

The Wicked + The Divine

Venture Bros. print



One of several by Patrick Leger.

Magneto and Emma Frost commissions by Marco Rudy

A photo posted by Marco Rudy (@marcorudy) on


A photo posted by Marco Rudy (@marcorudy) on

Mystery Show podcast canceled

"In April, Gimlet let me go. This came without warning while I was in the midst of working on the second season."

Destiny cardigan



Part of a series of Destiny-themed items.

Fall sale at the Big Bad Toy Store

Marvel Legends, Star Wars Black, and much more on sale, including: soccer players by Eric So, plush Mario turtle shell, Revoltech The Bat.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Newly-revealed Figma Samus, Marvel Legends Shatterstar



Lots of new toy reveals tonight, including Figma Metroid Prime 3 Samus and Portal bots, and lots of Marvel Legends, including Shatterstar, Ms. Marvel, and Sandman.

Richie Incognito back in the news

Donald Trump is tearing the NFL apart:

at least one white Buffalo player—Richie Incognito, the offensive lineman notorious for a bullying scandal that included racial slurs and who has now become a force in the Bills clubhouse—insists that Trump’s winning message has resonated with NFL players like him.

“I think that he can help this nation get back to a world superpower,” Incognito told B/R Mag. “Where I think he could help is putting us first again and having that—it's my mentality, too—having that tough attitude where you put America first and everyone's thinking we're the greatest nation in the world. Don't mess with America. That toughness is where I identify with him.”

"Thai university massacre casts forty year shadow"

Yahoo:

Pro-democracy students had massed in revulsion at the return to Thailand of an ousted ex-dictator after a three-year exile.

But Thai security forces, aided by royalist mobs, ended the protest with an attack that saw possibly scores of students shot, battered or stabbed to death -- with others hung from trees inside the campus.

The violence ended a brief three-year flirtation with democracy and ushered in another 16-years of military-led rule.

Funko Rock Candy Jane Foster Thor available for preorder



Thor, Spider-Gwen, Captain Marvel and more available ($9.99 each).

Kung Fu Yoga poster

"Estonia has become an importer of other countries' rubbish in order to keep one of its power plants running"

BBC:

Last year, the country brought in some 56,000 tonnes of refuse for its waste-to-energy power plant at Iru as the country isn't producing enough rubbish of its own to keep the boilers heated around the clock

...

That fuel - waste from other countries - came primarily from Finland, but also from territories as far afield as Ireland

"Behind The Crash Of 3D Robotics, North America's Most Promising Drone Company"

Forbes:

In 12 months, the company has gone from an industry leading U.S. drone startup to an organization struggling to survive–the result of mismanagement, ill-advised projections and a failed strategy that relied on a doomed flagship drone. As a result, 3D Robotics has laid off more than 150 people, burned through almost $100 million in venture capital funding and completely changed its business strategy.

...

A person, who worked for 3D Robotics’ marketing team, also questioned the company’s practices when displaying the drone to the press. The demo with The Verge in the spring of 2015, for example, featured a drone that was “worked over and souped up” and did not feature the typical parts you’d find in an off-the-shelf Solo. “We knew the drone would work,” he said, noting that there was an improved GPS component that wasn’t shipped in regulars Solos.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

"Billiken backlash: SLU will redesign mascot again"

Stl:

Apparently, the transition from a lovable, happy Billiken to what was considered a creepy Billiken was too much of a jump for those who let their sentiments be known.

"It doesn't look like a Billiken anymore," SLU freshman Carolina Lopez told the Post-Dispatch. "It looks like a mutated frog."

"While the creative vision for the two Star Wars rides are ground-breaking and overwhelmingly huge, the operational capacity is tiny. Each attraction is not expected to get more than 1,500 riders per hour"

"or roughly half the hourly capacity of Pirates of the Caribbean."