Friday, December 30, 2016

Splatoon mini-weapons collection



A few are available at Amazon.

"What is evil"

Comic by Benjamin Marra:

A private eye is investigating a young man's disappearance when he's drawn into a cult who occupy an abandoned hotel. What happens next is a blur.
Via AK's best and worst of 2016.

Collected volumes of Brian K. Vaughn's excellent Runaways series are 99 cents each today

Cross purchase for Kindle/Comixology.

Slate: "Self-Driving Cars Will Make Organ Shortages Even Worse"

"As technology takes the wheel, road deaths due to driver error will begin to diminish. It’s a transformative advancement, but one that comes with consequences in an unexpected place: organ donation."

"Wendi Deng strolls hand-in-hand with her Hungarian toyboy lover during a romantic beach stroll in St Barts"

She should be the new Dos Equis Man.

Robin's Playroom



By Lego 7.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Spelunking through a bag of cheese puffs

A photo posted by Slinkachu (@slinkachu_official) on


A photo posted by Slinkachu (@slinkachu_official) on

Rick and Morty 7-Inch Vinyl Figure by Kidrobot



Available for preorder, coming in March.

"The former head of Helsinki police's drugs squad was sentenced on Thursday to 10 years in jail for drug smuggling"

"The case is rare in Finland, whose public sector ranks second least corrupt in the world"

"The inaugural 'Secret Ops of the CIA' calendar"



WaPo:

“I just had these visions of art work, from the OSS through the contemporary war on global terrorism, and if you lined up all these paintings, you’d see the visual history of the CIA, one painting at a time,” he said. “I knew the only artwork at the headquarters was some god-awful ‘modern art’ . . . and tacky Americana prints.”

Eventually, Kirzinger pitched himself to the CIA as a volunteer who could find the artists, pool private donations to pay them, and research the missions’ scenes to ensure the paintings’ accuracy. The first painting, “Earthquake’s Final Flight,” which depicts a CIA plane in May 1954 under fire over North Vietnam, was installed at the agency in 2005.

“Erik’s vision for the collection ran parallel to our own desire to create a world-class art collection,” said Hiley, the agency’s longtime museum director. She added that the CIA wanted to amass a collection on par with the combat paintings owned by other military branches.

In June 2010, after multiple pieces had been unveiled at the agency, Kirzinger was presented with the CIA’s highest civilian honor, the Agency Seal Medal.
Available online.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Burbs Sardine sequence analysis

The ice cream scene from Mother

Meteora-Kalampaka Greece monastery

Teen Titans Go Happy Meal toys coming to McDonald's

Denali National Park posters by Dan McCarthy



Regular and glow in the dark available at 59 Parks.

Reebok Grinch Instapump sneakers



Link.

"Navy repeatedly dismissed evidence that ‘Fat Leonard’ was cheating the 7th Fleet"

WaPo:

The Navy allowed the worst corruption scandal in its history to fester for several years by dismissing a flood of evidence that the rotund Asian defense contractor was cheating the service out of millions of dollars and bribing officers with booze, sex and lavish dinners, newly released ­documents show.

...

staffers at U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters were so worried about the potential for trouble that they drafted a new ethics policy to discourage Navy personnel from accepting favors from Francis. But their effort was blocked for more than two years by admirals who were friendly with the contractor, according to officials familiar with the matter.

...

there is no end in sight to the investigation and that 200 people have fallen under scrutiny. Among them are about 30 current or retired admirals

...

Federal court records show that Francis methodically cultivated a network of paid Navy informants over many years and planted them throughout the bureaucracy. He had spies inside the Navy’s regional contracting office in Singapore, the U.S. Embassy in Manila and the wardroom of the USS Blue Ridge, a command ship that serves as the flagship for the Navy’s 7th Fleet and the hub for maritime operations in Asia.

In exchange for paid sex with prostitutes, cash and luxury vacations, Francis’s informants fed him a near-daily diet of classified material and inside information that enabled him to keep gouging the Navy and outfox his pursuers for years, according to court records.

...

“What else could I have done to expose this racket?” said David Schaus, who has since left the military. Others in the Navy, he added, “made my life hell” after they learned he had tried to blow the whistle on Glenn Defense.

Photo essay about Chinese-led construction of a railway line in Ethiopia

Link.

"the most important element is that the restaurant has no servers: instead, chefs bring out the food and 'interact with guests at tables.'"

Restaurant scene in New York:

"What I'm trying to create is a direct experience between chefs and guests in a restaurant, so there's no traditional division with chefs and servers kind of hiding out in the kitchen," he said.

When guests are seated, chefs consult with them on a menu of dishes meant to be shared.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

"Bombshells: We’re not a 'breastaurant'"

NYP:

Management of the four-unit Houston-based restaurant and bar wants to take its military-themed concept — and its scantily-clad waitresses and ice-cold beer — on a cross-country tear that could result in as many as 100 new franchised locations opening in the next five years.

...

This is all good news for RCI brass — but just don’t start referring to their Bombshells chain as just another so-called “breastaurant,” the name for a burger and beer joint with scantily-clad waitresses, like Twin Peaks and Hooters.

Management would rather you think of the family-friendly Dave & Buster’s as their inspiration

...

“Our uniform is like a cheerleader outfit,” director of operations David Simmons offered.

"Two Canadian sisters with large Instagram followings have been arrested in Nigeria and charged with threatening to blackmail and extort a well-known African billionaire online"

BF:

the sisters have a history of recording conversations and having sex with rich men — then threatening to release the recordings, photos, or videos

...

The Matharoos have also gained a level of infamy in Nigeria — where they had become fixtures in the nightlife scene — by feuding with the wives of prominent businessmen in Instagram comments. One Nigerian website that profiled them posted the headline: “Indian twin-menace: Nigeria’s most promiscuous sisters Jyoti and Kiran Matharoo. Why Billionaire Housewives Dread Them.”

Jewel to star in a Hallmark movie about a house flipper turned amateur detective

Framed for Murder: A Fixer Upper Mystery:

In the small resort town of Lighthouse Cove, everyone knows that the best man for the job is a woman. And that woman is Shannon Hughes, owner of a construction company and an expert in Victorian home restoration and renovation. Through her renovations she will find clues to uncover the house’s secret past and in turn become an unlikely sleuth to help crack these unsolved mysteries.

Rambo Helicopter Cockpit Playset





One available at ebay when I checked.

Overview of the Floating Piers

"How Jukin Media Built a Viral-Video Empire"

NYT:

A researcher, on average, watches 200 clips daily. That’s a thousand videos each week, or 50,000 per year, give or take. The company’s research is aided by proprietary software called Riff, which generates feeds based on niche viral keywords. Maybe you’ve seen 15 or 20 good videos of babies tasting lemons for the first time, or troops surprising mothers at Christmas, or dogs and parakeets becoming unlikely friends. A Jukin researcher has seen these, too, plus all the duds that never made it to your feed.

Of those 200 reviewed on a typical day, perhaps three or four may be good enough to license, generally for a fee between $50 and $5,000, and often a revenue split. Researchers contact clip owners by any means necessary — usually through YouTube or Facebook but occasionally over dating sites, or wherever else they can be found. In all, the company has paid out more than $10 million in royalties to video owners.

...

Its most successful clips tend to fall into one of three genres: “cute,” “fail” and “win.” “Cute” is dancing toddlers, puppies and clumsy kittens, anything involving that optimal eye-size-to-head-size ratio. “Fail” is whatever tenses the shoulders in empathy — wipeouts, face plants, schemes gone awry. I’m told the best fails are those that fail in unexpected ways, denying Chekhov’s gun — e.g., the skateboarder doesn’t eat it on the ramp, but then a guy in the background is kicked in the nuts. “Win” is whatever affirms faith in humanity, so women giving birth in cars and on airplanes, and also people catching marshmallows in their mouths from far away.

Star Trek Beyond "takes a thimble’s worth of plot and stretches it to just over two hours"

"so stultifyingly predictable it feels like it’s unfolding in slow motion."

Monday, December 26, 2016

"Why the ‘Ghost Ship’ Was Invisible in Oakland, Until 36 Died"

NYT:

The database that fire officials use to track properties in need of inspections is outdated, resulting in a process that is haphazard at best. Beyond a list of buildings mandated by the state, the city of Oakland leaves it up to the Fire Department to determine which commercial buildings should be inspected and how often.

But the city’s website, which laid out details of the program, was altered after the fire, deleting a passage that called for mandatory annual inspections of all commercial buildings. The entry was also changed to say that when inspections occur, they should take place “approximately” every two years.

...

Chief Deloach Reed said she was aware that the city’s website had been altered to remove mention of mandatory annual inspections and described it as a belated update reflecting a policy change that occurred around two years ago.

“The website was not accurate,” she said. “It had to be changed in order to reflect really what was going on.”

Balloon vendors in heavy fog

A photo posted by AFP Photo (@afpphoto) on

20% off at Last Exit to Nowhere

With the code NEWYEAR20.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

"Donald Trump is set to inherit an uncommon number of vacancies in the federal courts in addition to the open Supreme Court seat"

"The estimated 103 judicial vacancies that President Obama is expected to hand over to Trump in the Jan. 20 transition of power is nearly double the 54 openings Obama found eight years ago"

Time Outside - George Michael / Culture Club mashup by Go Home Productions

Available for download under the "This Was Pop" collection.

Final Fantasy 15 Full Ramuh Summon



Warhammer 40K Genestealer Cult



From a painting competition.

"Lost, Afraid, and Snow-Blind in 'The Division: Survival'"

WP:

The Dark Zone sits squatly in the middle of our maps, its ghostly skyscrapers colored blood red. One of its entrances is a straight shot down a street, and wordlessly we split off, covering the left and right sides of the road. A figure in the snow ahead of us reveals itself to be a gold enemy, the highest tier, ambling patiently down between the wrecked cars. We see him at the same time and freeze in place. To try and take down a gold when we're this close to the Dark Zone would risk throwing everything away, and so we crouch silently behind cover.

There is no music. The figure approaches, and he swings his rifle by his side idly. He could destroy us in between four and six seconds. He is about five feet away. I hold my breath.

"New York Antiquities Dealer Charged With Trafficking Looted Artifacts"

AN:

The dealer is now accused of disposing of records of antiquities in the gallery’s holdings, inherited from her mother in 2011. Prosecutors say she falsified new provenances for hundreds of works, 380 of which were sold at Christie’s in 2012 for a total $12.8 million.

Besides arranging false papers for these and other works, Wiener is also accused of having items—like a $500,000 bronze Buddha—restored to conceal signs of illegal excavations, like shovel marks. The aforementioned Buddha was seized in the March raid, while affixed with a selling price of $1.5 million.

Another example,

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Alien Covenant trailer (they stick their heads over hatching eggs again)

Doctor Aphra in Star Wars Force Arena gameplay



"Ultimate Jungle Hunter" Predator available for preorder

Multiple heads, hands, accessories for $24.99.

From my wishlist, Jackaby is $1.99 today

At Amazon.

• A Top Ten Fall ’14 Kids’ Indie Next Pick
• A 2014 Kirkus Reviews Best Book for Young Adults
• A 2015 YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults Title
• A 2015 Pacific Northwest Book Award Winner
• A 2015–2016 Georgia Peach Award Nominee
• A Junior Library Guild Selection

Friday, December 23, 2016

Injustice 2: Supergirl Gameplay Walkthrough



Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl championship trophy is "forged from combat-tested metal and the steel from all five branches of the United States Armed Forces"



LM:

A C-130 Hercules, an F-18 Hornet, an AH-1 Cobra and a Littoral Combat Ship. What do these four platforms have in common? Besides the obvious – that they are operated by U.S. armed forces –parts of each of these platforms were forged together to form the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl trophy. All across Lockheed Martin there are employees who flew, maintained, served on or built the military platforms that are a part of the trophy.


...

The motto of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl is, "more than a bowl game."
Also:
“Talk about a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Joe LaMarca, vice president, Communications, for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. “Not only did thousands of our employees get to see and touch the trophy the last few months

...

As the trophy made its way across the country, it found itself among the snowcapped mountains of Colorado, in the line of fire at White Sands Missiles Range and in full pilot glory at Edwards AFB

Winter clearance sale at Entertainment Earth

For example, lots of Star Wars: Micro Machines are 70% off, samurai Stormtrooper is 25% off, and Stormtrooper collector's helmet is 55% off.

Other goods too, including these Marvel keychains (adorable Collector and Yondu).

"Inside the incredible underground city that once housed 20,000 people"

Ind:

Believed to have been created during the Byzantine era in 780-1180 AD, the city of Derinkuyu was likely used as a bunker to protect inhabitants during wartime or from natural disasters.

The city’s security system was complex with stone doors able to close from the inside to block intruders from entering, with each storey being closed off individually.

While only roughly half of the secret city is accessible, it is connected to other underground communities by tunnels that can stretch for miles.

Hellboy custom action figure

"Children play on an incomplete model of a large male figure based on the character Gulliver"

From the photos of the week. Also, dinosaur robots run amok.

The abandoned plan to replace Will Riker with "Tom Riker"

CBR:

one of the recurring problems from a story perspective on the series was that it made no sense for the first officer of the prized ship in Starfleet to go on so many heroic mission and have so much success and not actually become the captain of his own ship. It was stretching the point to incredulity that Will Riker would not accept a ship of his own where he would be the Captain.

So, according to the commentary tracks on the third season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” on Blu-Ray, the writers initially considered killing off Commander Riker and then having Lieutenant Riker (whether he would call himself Will or not is up for debate) join the crew, with Commander Data becoming the new first officer for the ship and Riker taking Data’s old job as the head of operations. It would explain why Riker wouldn’t leave the ship, as he would now be at a very different point in his career. It would also create all sorts of new dynamics, with Data as first officer and with the other Will re-meeting all of the crew of the ship and presumably he would pursue a relationship with Troi again.

However, the main issue was this was late in the show’s run, and they had been discussing a film version of the show for some time now, and it just seemed like a bad time to drastically alter the framework of the show, so the idea was scrapped.

A few years later, then-“Next Generation” writer Ronald Moore made the same proposal for an episode of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” where Colm Meaney’s Miles O’Brien was replaced by a sleeper agent replicant.

Lightning in the Blood by Marie Brennan is great, features excellent world-building

A story like this is what I wanted when I backed the Torment kickstarter. Available for preorder for $2.99 at Amazon (the first book in the series, which I haven't read yet, is available now).

Rogue One display readouts



Gallery of work by Blind.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Kyrie 3 soles



Nike.

"you can’t die in Svalbard"

LARB:

If you travel across the Barents Sea from Yamalo-Nenets, you’ll arrive at a Norwegian archipelago called Svalbard. It is an otherworldly place, inhospitable to most life yet starkly and sublimely beautiful. Roughly 2,600 intrepid people, most of them adult men, live here. But you can’t die in Svalbard. No, inhabitants are not immortal. Rather, their life cycles are abridged in mundane ways: Norwegian officials forcibly evict the sick, disabled, and elderly, shipping them back to the Norwegian mainland to end their days. You can’t be born in Svalbard either. The governor orders women in their third trimester to leave. Svalbard is not, as citizens call it, a “life cycle community” — no concessions are made for birth and death, and only able-bodied working adults are welcome. Those verging on dotage are reminded that 20 retirees could bankrupt the town, a message reinforced by the hospital’s scant number of beds and its sole doctor. An elderly person who resists leaving home in the settlement of Longyearbyen is threatened with deportation.

...

I meet an administrator in the nave, who blinks quizzically when I ask for directions, and then directs me 300 meters along the PlatÃ¥berget mountainside: don’t cross the bridge, she warns, and don’t pass the white house.

"Detroit to get world's first combination IHOP/Applebee's"

DFP:

"This is the first IHOP/Applebee's combo that’s ever been built anywhere"

...

The IHOP/Applebee's co-brand concept, if expanded, might help DineEquity regain growth in the ever-competitive casual dining restaurant business.

Applebee's locations nationwide have seen a modest decline in year-over-year sales figures in recent quarters, while the IHOP brand has seen slower growth amid pressure from the popular All Day Breakfast initiative at McDonalds.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Legion poster

Miniature Metroid toy in stock

Soft rubber with squishy shell. Around $12 from the BBTS or Amazon.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

"For a few decades at the end of the 19th century, 'acclimatization,' or intercontinental species-swapping, was all the rage throughout Europe and its colonies"

AO:

the American Acclimatization Society—one of dozens of perfectly legal groups dedicated to spreading species around the world

...

Others were too successful. Australia was a popular places to send European species, largely because the settlers there were suspicious of the native flora and fauna and wanted to see some more familiar animals (“The swans were black, the eagles white… some mammals had pockets, others laid eggs… and even the blackberries were red,” complained one, named J. Martin, of his time there).

Members of Society there brought in blackbirds, thrushes, partridges, and rabbits, the latter of which soon overran the continent. The same thing happened with opossums in New Zealand. To fix this problem, they tried bringing in weasels and stoats, which began eating birds instead of the intended target. Both countries are still dealing with the devastation caused by these decisions.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

"He’s gone from the anchor’s desk to the cubicle behind the anchor’s desk."

"TV insiders are snickering that after Ronan Farrow's MSNBC show 'Ronan Farrow Daily' was canceled, the former host is still on-camera every day — he just sits at a cubicle over the shoulder of his replacement"

"Those deemed the most attractive are invited to join a fast-track flight attendant trainee scheme, which can open the door to a dream job at one of China’s big airlines."

Eco:

EVERY December, more than 1,000 female high school students, some as young as 15, take part in a “bikini competition” held in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao. The event, hosted by Oriental Beauty, a modelling agency, provides a platform for aspiring flight attendants to show off their bikini bodies to eager recruiters from the Chinese airline industry.

...

Many Chinese and other Asian airlines shamelessly exploit female sexuality. At China Southern Airlines, air hostesses must be 25 or younger and must not have “X or O shaped legs”.

"The official GOP biography of Trump's pick for Treasury secretary leaves out his 17 years at Goldman Sachs"

BI:

While it does cite "experience with financial and monetary matters," the biography leaves out the fact that Mnuchin worked at a bank that Trump railed against during his campaign.

In fact, Trump featured Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein in his final campaign ad, which ran a distorted image of Blankfein with a voiceover that talked about a "global power structure" that "stripped our country of its wealth."

"Intelligence experts accuse Cambridge forum of Kremlin links"

FT:

Sir Richard Dearlove, the ex-chief of the Secret Intelligence Service and former master of Pembroke college, Stefan Halper, a senior foreign policy adviser at the White House to presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan, and Peter Martland, a leading espionage historian, have resigned as conveners of the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar — an academic forum for former practitioners and current researchers of western spycraft — because of concerns over what they fear could be a Kremlin-backed operation to compromise the group.

...

Sir Richard and his colleagues suspect that Veruscript — a newly established digital publishing house that has provided funding to set up a new journal of intelligence and to cover some of the seminar’s costs — may be acting as a front for the Russian intelligence services.

$100 itunes credit for $85

at ebay.

Passengers poster by Mondo



Friday, December 16, 2016

"The German parent company behind Jägermeister has filed a formal notice of opposition to the Milwaukee Bucks’ primary logo"

SN:

To me, the visual similarities here are all about the fact that in both cases, the forward-facing buck is enclosed in a circle. The proportions of these two elements could be construed as being somewhat similar. Strip out all color, pull this deer head out of the circle, and different things start to happen:

Tiny Lego Castle Black



By Legopard.

"After nearly 16 years, Ms. Sharmila, tired of being an icon and saying she did not want to be called a goddess, walked away from her hospital prison"

NYT:

In November 2000, Ms. Sharmila, then 28, vowed to stop eating to protest a law that shields soldiers from prosecution for crimes, after a company of Assam Rifles killed 10 civilians.

As her legend grew, people wrote songs about her, a Bollywood film on Manipur will feature a character based on her and her image has graced posters and T-shirts and autorickshaws — her hair unruly, her face pale, a feeding tube attached to her nose. Amnesty International declared her a prisoner of conscience. In 2006, Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian Nobel laureate, said that if Ms. Sharmila died, “the whole executive branch of this country” would be responsible. They called her the goddess of Manipur.

But in July, she said she would end her fast, declared her intention to unseat the powerful chief minister of the state, currently serving his third term, and announced her plans to get married, presumably to her boyfriend, Desmond Coutinho, a man described by the local news media as a British citizen of Indian origin, about whom little is known.

On Aug. 9, in front of a throng of journalists, she licked a dab of honey from her hand. After nearly 16 years, Ms. Sharmila, tired of being an icon and saying she did not want to be called a goddess, walked away from her hospital prison.

“They drew me in whatever imagery they wanted of me and they just kept me there and worshiped me,” she said of the public.

That night, as she approached her new home, an angry crowd forced the ambulance carrying her and the police vehicles flanking it to stop.

"Costume Designers Often Left Out Of Merchandising Fashion Around Big Budget Films"

HR:

Some costume designers have tried to get proper credit for their work, whether it’s correcting history or demanding so in their contracts. The late Theoni V. Aldredge believed Ralph Lauren took credit for her costume work for 1974’s The Great Gatsby, and reportedly tried to urge Paramount to remove his name from the film’s credits. Later, in her Oscars acceptance speech, she famously avoided mentioning Lauren’s name. Edith Head seethed more or less in silence while the fashion press continued to credit Hubert de Givenchy for designing the little black dress Audrey Hepburn wore in her Oscar-nominated role in 1954’s Sabrina. Both Appel and Deborah Landis asked to get compensated for the tie-ins associated for their costumes for the Austin Powers and Indiana Jones films, respectively.

"There was laughter on the other end"
Relatedly, Anne Crabtree just posted these looks:

"Caspian Sea Platform Collapses in High Winds; 1 Dead, 9 Missing"

GC:

The platform is operated by Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR.

...

The accident comes just one year after 32 people died when a SOCAR platform in the Caspian caught fire and partially collapsed during high winds.

"[Eric] Schmidt then suggested to Trump that he be the 'software president,' a phrase Trump misheard as 'soft' president."

"Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was apparently very voluble, and aimed many of his points at how U.S. companies had a hard time succeeding in China, and what the government could do about it."

The Ballad of Black Tom is very good

Laird Barron (who has also written some great stories) said "LaValle's novella of sorcery and skullduggery in Jazz Age New York is a magnificent example of what weird fiction can and should do." $2.99 at Amazon.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

"368 gymnasts allege sexual exploitation"

IS:

top officials at USA Gymnastics, one of the nation’s most prominent Olympic organizations, failed to alert police to many allegations of sexual abuse that occurred on their watch and stashed complaints in files that have been kept secret. But the problem is far worse. A nine-month investigation found that predatory coaches were allowed to move from gym to gym, undetected by a lax system of oversight, or dangerously passed on by USA Gymnastics-certified gyms.

USA Gymnastics calls itself a leader in child safety. In a statement responding to IndyStar’s questions, it said: “Nothing is more important to USA Gymnastics, the Board of Directors and CEO Steve Penny than protecting athletes

Clippy charm



Link.

Tiny Tributes: Literary



By Charles Santoso for a show in Sydney.

Masters of the Universe Roton



On sale soon.

"Help Us Design The Worst Movie Poster Of 2016"



Rules.

"Metro fired six workers after determining that nearly half of the agency’s 60-person track-inspection department created a pattern of fabrication and negligence that led to the derailment"

“What they’ve done is not necessarily falsification. . . . There are a lot of nuances here

"How do I explain Trump’s presidency to my son, who is so privileged that the election results cannot possibly have any impact on him whatsoever?"

"It seems all I can do is pray that Taylor doesn’t grow up thinking it’s okay to follow our President’s example of how to treat women. Of course, if he ever does follow Trump’s example, my wife and I are more than equipped to provide him with the necessary legal counsel to get him out of trouble."

"the pressure to cut emissions and respond to a changing climate are going to alter what we do and don’t see as valuable"

"If we can’t burn oil, it’s not worth very much. If we can’t defend coastal real estate from rising seas (or even insure it, for that matter), it’s not worth very much. If the industrial process a company owns exposes them to future climate litigation, it’s not worth very much. The value of those assets is going to plummet"

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Life-Size Baby Groot figure available for preorder for $29

At the BBTS. Also, Alien M.U.S.C.L.E. figures and Ren and Stimpy Funko Pops.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

"Rex Tillerson’s Company, Exxon, Has Billions at Stake Over Sanctions on Russia"

NYT:

After the Russian incursion in 2014, the United States prohibited the transfer of advanced offshore and shale oil technology to Russia. The American government announced on Sept. 12 that year that Exxon was to halt all offshore drilling assistance to Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, by Sept. 26.

But Exxon Mobil’s high-tech rig was already drilling in the Kara Sea, in an unfinished $700 million project that had yet to find oil. It would be worthless if not completed.

Russian executives then told Exxon Mobil that Russia’s security services would fly in a Russian crew — in essence seize the rig — if Exxon Mobil complied with the American law and left without completing the well, according to an oil company executive who had visited the rig in the Arctic.

Exxon relayed the threat to the American government, and the Treasury Department capitulated, granting an extension that stretched the window to work until Oct. 10. In a statement in 2014, the Russian state oil company denied conveying such a threat to Mr. Tillerson’s company.

With the extension in hand, Exxon Mobil discovered a major field with about 750 million barrels of new oil for Russia a few weeks later.

"The World’s Newest Muslim Insurgency Is Being Waged in Burma"

Time:

This new armed group is overseen by a committee of Rohingya émigrés based in Mecca

...

The emergence of this well-organized and apparently well-funded group is a game-changer in the government’s efforts to address the complex challenges of Arakan state. Though there have been some small insurgent groups in recent decades, mostly based out of Bangladesh, in Burma — which is officially called Myanmar — the Rohingya have never been a radicalized population, and the majority have eschewed violence, seeing it as counterproductive to improving their lot. But

"Amazon announced today that it is partnering with the Wynn Las Vegas hotel to outfit all of its 4,700-plus rooms with the Amazon Echo by the summer of 2017"

"At some point in the future, streaming music and personal assistant options will be added, though it’s not clear whether Amazon customers will have to log in with their own account information"

From Amazon's FAQ:

4. How do I delete Alexa voice recordings?

You can delete specific voice recordings associated with your account by going to History in Settings in the Alexa App, drilling down for a specific entry, and then tapping the delete button. Or, you can delete all voice recordings associated with your account for each of your Alexa-enabled products, by selecting the applicable product at the Manage Your Content and Devices page at www.amazon.com/mycd or contacting customer service.

Deleting voice recordings may degrade your Alexa experience. If you delete voice recordings, we will also remove Home Screen Cards related to those voice recordings. However, removing a Home Screen Card from your Alexa App does not delete voice recordings. If you have changed your default marketplace while using an Alexa-enabled product, you will need to perform this step for each marketplace to delete all voice recordings associated with your account.

"The only town in the United States built and inhabited exclusively by Chinese"

LT:

In 1915 a group of immigrants from the Zhongshan area of southern China built their own town in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta of California, called Locke. The only town in the United States built and inhabited exclusively by Chinese, Locke soon grew to provide all the services needed by a population of farm laborers, mostly single men. Main Street had brothels, gambling houses, stores and restaurants, cheap rental rooms and speakeasies. More than that, Locke provided a place of refuge for Chinese immigrants in an unwelcoming world.

"A treasure hunter found 3 tons of sunken gold — and can’t leave jail until he says where it is"

WaPo:

The wreck of the S.S. Central America waited 130 years for Thompson to come along. The steamer went down in a hurricane in 1857, taking 425 souls and at least three tons of California gold to the sea floor off South Carolina.

Many tried to find it, but none succeeded until


...

There followed a two-year manhunt for what a top U.S. Marshal called “perhaps one of the smartest fugitives” the agency had ever chased.

Thompson had “almost limitless resources and approximately a ten year head start” in the chase, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio Peter Tobin said in a statement.

Thompson and his girlfriend had been living for years in a Florida mansion, paying rent with cash that was damp and moldy from the earth it had been buried in, The Post’s Abby Phillip reported last year. The couple had fled by the time authorities found the house.

Government records detailed what they’d left behind: disposable cellphones, money straps stamped “$10,000” and a guide on evading law enforcement

"Story of Santa Claus with dying child can't be verified"

"Since publication, the News Sentinel has done additional investigation in an attempt to independently verify Schmitt-Matzen’s account."

Relatedly:

In case you don’t remember: In 2015, there was an incredible viral photograph, a “lucky” shot, that showed a raccoon perched on the back of a swimming alligator. A man named Richard Jones told the local news that he’d snapped the picture himself, and a lot of Florida news outlets ran with it. The story spread to larger publications. It went viral.

...

“I staged the raccoon and the alligator,” Zardulu said. The animals are taxidermied; she sprayed each with a commercial product used to waterproof leather to protect them from the water. Zardulu showed us photographs of the setup, and some of herself, in costume, clutching the animals.

...

Yes, Zardulu has said that Pizza Rat was performed by a trained rat as well

"If You Bought A Real Christmas Tree, You Paid 15 Cents To The Christmas Tree Promotion Board"

BF:

The board is a government-backed marketing program that’s devoted to protecting Christmas tree farmers against the threat posed by artificial trees, the industry’s arch nemesis. The uber-seasonal industry group, based in Colorado, is focused on “increasing the value and demand for cut Christmas trees.” And it has a state-mandated source of funding: by law, growers must pay $0.15 from every Christmas tree sold to the organization.

...

Among other things, the board aims to maintain profitability for the country’s Christmas tree farmers, who a decade a ago confronted a serious oversupply problem as too many real trees were harvested and fake trees became more popular. Prices plummeted.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

"As long ago as the 10th century, astute observers noted that Britain’s coastlines were fringed with trees, visible only at low tide"

Aeon:

Traditionally, the ‘drowned forests’ were regarded as evidence of Noah’s flood.

...

The area, now called Doggerland, was gradually submerged as the last Ice Age came to an end, and the melting glaciers raised sea levels. Only around 5,500 BCE did Britain finally become an island. The rediscovery of the great plain that formerly connected it to mainland Europe is one of the most remarkable scientific stories of the past decade, yet there is a sense in which it should not come as a surprise at all. Doggerland addresses one of our oldest preoccupations; for we have always told stories about lost civilisations, hidden beneath the waves.
Relatedly: "An expert committee convened by the World Meteorological Organization has established a new world record significant wave height of a massive 19 meters (62.3 feet!) measured by a buoy in the North Atlantic."

"hoards of top Instagrammers have been geotagging their posts with 'Singapore, Singapore,' in an attempt to go viral"

Mic:

In the past two weeks alone, internet stars such as King Bach, Amanda Cerny, Lele Pons, Dan "King of Instagram" Bilzerian, Christian Collins, Logan Paul, Jerry Purpdrank, Sommer Ray and others have all been ostensibly posting from Singapore, when in fact most never left Los Angeles and none have been traveling to Asia.

...

When questioned about this approach, none of the internet celebrities I spoke with seemed to fully understand how the trick works or why it gained popularity.

...

It's also worth noting that none of these stars previously had a significant portion of their audience based in Singapore. Their attempts to game the feed are aimed at reaching U.S. audiences.

"You keep Singapore up for 12 hours, then you change it," said one verified Instagram user. "It's fully ridiculous and dumb, but it works. I'm not sure why or if it's just because it's become a meme, but the 'Singapore, Singapore' posts do way better. It 100% works."

Wake Forest radio analyst allegedly gave opponents "confidential and proprietary game preparations on multiple occasions"

USAT:

The radio announcer for Wake Forest’s football games “provided or attempted to provide” details about the Demon Deacons’ upcoming game plans to opponents during the past three seasons

...

The university’s release placed blame on Tommy Elrod, a former Wake Forest player, graduate assistant and full-time assistant coach who was fired, along with the entire coaching staff, following the 2013 season.

“Based on emails, text messages and phone records,” the university said in a statement, Elrod “provided or attempted to provide confidential and proprietary game preparation on multiple occasions” beginning in 2014, when Elrod was hired as an analyst on the Wake Forest IMG Radio Network.

“'Alexander’s Gates' . . . This myth was the Pacific Rim of its day"

Bldg:

I was also reminded of another famous military wall constructed in a remote mountain landscape to keep a daunting adversary at bay, the so-called “Alexander’s Gates,” a monumental—and entirely mythic—architectural project allegedly built by Alexander the Great in the Caucasus region to keep monsters out of Europe. This myth was the Pacific Rim of its day, we might say.

I first encountered the story of Alexander’s Gates in Stephen T. Asma’s book, On Monsters.
Alexander supposedly chased his foreign enemies through a mountain pass in the Caucasus region and then enclosed them behind unbreachable iron gates. The details and the symbolic significance of the story changed slightly in every medieval retelling, and it was retold often, especially in the age of exploration. (…) The maps of the time, the mappaemundi, almost always include the gates, though their placement is not consistent.

Rogue One - War Zone



Via.

"‘Westworld’ Secrets From Costume Designer Ane Crabtree"

Observer:

The Escalante set that the crew nicknamed “Dante’s Inferno” because of everything that goes on there, story-wise, holds a special memory for Crabtree as the sight of her fitting with Anthony Hopkins for his part of the finale. “We had to be on location really early,” Crabtree remembers. “I got a really nice room for him for his fitting so it was more special than throwing things at him in his trailer. I laid it all out. It was a very old fashioned fitting.

“I would see him every day and we would have these epic, beautiful artistic conversations. But that day his room wasn’t ready, and I was so nervous because I was going to have to be with Anthony for a few hours. It’s so dumb because I spent the year with him already, but I was so ‘how will I keep up the conversation?’ It was one of the most beautiful, singular moments in my whole life that we just sat and had cheese and tea and we talked about his life. And he probably knew that I was so fucking scared and nervous. It was really lovely, and there is never time for that when you are on set. It was an amazing fitting, and a more amazing conversation and then it led to this beautiful scene.”
This dress for Hale feels like if Kevin Wada did a fashion commission of Phoenix:



"in Chipotle’s most recent quarter, sales were $200 million lower than they were a year ago, even though the company now has 240 more restaurants than it did back then"

"Despite these problems, Chipotle still plans to open another 200 restaurants in 2017"

"the power of America’s political parties directly stemmed from the fact that media (and its paid advertising model) was the gatekeeper of information"

"The likelihood any particular message will 'break out' is based not on who is propagating said message but on how many users are receptive to hearing it. The power has shifted from the supply side to the demand side"

"Our Children Aren’t Getting Softer, but Their Stuffed Animals Are. Here’s Why."

Slate:

“For the last three to four years, nobody has wanted to buy a hard stuffed animal,” said Ezra Ishayik, who’s been in the toy business for more than 40 years and currently runs New York City’s Mary Arnold Toys with his daughter Judy. “This is what parents want for babies, but we also have teenagers buying them. I prefer the softer ones, too.”

Not everyone feels the same way. Wendy Mitchell, founder of the Stuffed Animal Rescue Foundation, an organization that restores abandoned stuffed animals and puts them up for “adoption” at no charge, says the rising softness of stuffed animals is a “pet peeve” of hers.

“To me they feel terrible. They’re so soft, it’s almost as though they aren’t there, and that’s a problem, because these creatures are supposed to be their own entity,” she explained. Mitchell’s preference for a little resistance in her stuffed animals, by way of a slightly more textured fabric and/or denser stuffing, is similar to how many of us feel about our friends: a good companion should occasionally push back.

Such a critique raises an important question: Are today’s softer stuffed animals exclusively the result of advances in fabrics and manufacturing or a response to a contemporary emotional need?

$35k 1/7 Scale Rogue One AT-ACT available for preorder at the BBTS

Not a typo.

Picked up from my wishlist, Ninefox Gambit is 99 cents today

At Amazon.

Monday, December 12, 2016

"Maurice Binder, who created many of the famous [Bond] title sequences...was so horrified by the butchering of his work for television...that he would later start filming both theatrical and television versions of his opening titles"

007D:

In 1975 ABC started to become more bold in it's edits: Diamonds Are Forever was edited to remove any hint of the homosexual nature of the relationship between Mr. Wint and Mr Kidd and later that same year, You Only Live Twice was shown with the beginning of the movie confusingly and needlessly re-edited. The film began, as it should, with the space capsule but eighteen seconds into the scene it cuts to Bond already dead in his bed and then the credits begin to roll! (If anyone has a recording of this that they would like to share please let us know!)

However, all of this pales in comparison to the abomination that was the "ABC cut" of On Her Majesty's Secret Service. OHMSS was first broadcast on American television in February 1976. By then they had shown all of the Sean Connery James Bond films, and Live And Let Die would not be shown until the fall of 1976, so all that left was On Her Majesty's Secret Service, which starred that other chap that nobody had heard of again since he left the role. The ABC television promos for On Her Majesty's Secret Service did not mention George Lazenby at all, instead they described the movie as starring "Diana Rigg and Telly Savalas"

"New dog safety vest counters wolf attacks in eastern Finland"

"If a wolf attacks a dog wearing the vest and punctures the fabric, the cartridges release chili powder that sprays on the wolf’s face and mouth."

"Behind the Scenes With the World's Top Feather Detective"

Audobon:

Sometimes Trail receives a blob of black sludge from an oil pit containing a decomposed bird and has to extract the feathers, restore them, and ID the species. Other times he gets the smashed remains of an animal demolished by a wind turbine. He has investigated high-end artifacts smuggled into the country—an indigenous Amazonian crown made from curassow body feathers, toucan throat feathers, and Scarlet Macaw tail feathers, for example—and cheap dream catchers peddled at tourist traps across the Southwest. The findings go both ways; the evidence in question might be made from perfectly legal turkey feathers or the feathers of a protected sub-adult Golden Eagle.

In 2013 Trail received a shipment of 43 hummingbirds. The carcasses, which were each about the size of an index finger, had been dried out and stuffed into red paper tubes that were decorated with matching satin tassels. Accompanying each was a Spanish-language prayer meant to invoke the mystical powers of la chuparosa

Sunday, December 11, 2016

David Carradine deluxe figure



Gangsters Kingdom Side Story Neil in stock.

Moana concept art



Ryan Lang posted a bunch of Moana concept art. Doctor Strange, too.

"Since the mid-1990s, it’s estimated that at least 100,000 Japanese men and women vanish annually"

NYP:

“It’s so taboo,” Mauger tells The Post. “It’s something you can’t really talk about. But people can disappear because there’s another society underneath Japan’s society. When people disappear, they know they can find a way to survive.”

These lost souls, it turns out, live in lost cities of their own making.

The city of Sanya, as Mauger writes, isn’t located on any map. Technically, it doesn’t even exist. It’s a slum within Tokyo, one whose name has been erased by authorities. What work can be found here is run by the yakuza — the Japanese mafia — or employers looking for cheap, off-the-books labor. The evaporated live in tiny, squalid hotel rooms, often without Internet or private toilets. Talking in most hotels is forbidden after 6 p.m.


...

A shadow economy has emerged to service those who want never to be found — who want to make their disappearances look like abductions, their homes look like they’ve been robbed, no paper trail or financial transactions to track them down.

Nighttime Movers was one such company

Tiny turnstile



MMO.